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The Incredible Book Eating Boy at The Sydney Opera House

The first time son was weighed by the local district nurse, she exclaimed, “Dear Lord, he eats like a Roman! If he keeps this up, you’ll have to install a vomitorium!” She chuckled heartily, so clearly this was a good gag.

Yesterday I smiled to myself when we went to see ‘The Incredible Book Eating Boy,’ as it reminded me so of that joke that was lost on me (though I did appreciate the nurses broad accent and thick rolling rrrr’s.) The tale is about a boy who eats a page… then a book… then books. Though of zero nutritional value, this is outweighed by the added bonus that with each book consumed he grows smarter and smarter (he would definitely get the joke about the vomitorium.)

how it works

His habit spirals out of control until his innards can take no more. Boy has to either a) install a vomitorium, or b) find another way to consume books. Fortunately he chooses the later and finds that he loves to read books too.

Although I found the book a little predictable (though clearly I’m not the bench mark to set these standard by), I was pleasantly surprised at how the theatre production brought this book to life for me …big time. There was song, there was dance and plenty of slapstick to keep me and 6 year old daughter similarly entertained. From go to woaw..  he’s throwing up bite size pieces of book, cascading like confetti! we were hooked.


I won a family pass courtesy of Arts Rocket (http://www.artsrocket.org/) a big thankyou!


The Incredible Book Eating Boy is playing at The Sydney Opera House from the 12- 27th April. So if you have kids (or adults) who’d be entertained by a book eating boy, do go! Daughter really enjoyed how this play opened, from the book that goes bad, to the opening of the visual domino effect.


Ps Vomitorium: hailing from the latin vomitus (to vomit) and ancient times when vomiting was part of the fine dining experience to make way for more food.



Sea Monsters!

Science fiction and folklore are peppered with stories of large and lurking creatures of the deep. They can be elusive, like the Loch ness Monster, who placidly dwells in a lake in northern Scotland. They can be hell bent on revenge, like the tale of Moby Dick, where man takes on gargantuan whale and loses. Then there are those that lurk, like Jaws, on a blood thirsty rampage for life and limb!

Loch ness, Jaws and Moby Dick

However, my favourite sea monster would have to be the Giant Squid. This beast goes into battle with cannon laden ships, suffocates submarines (20,000 Leagues under the Sea) and takes on enormous whales, leaving their tentacle sucker battle scars on anything in its path.

1 the kraken

Hundreds of years ago, sailors told tales of ‘The Kraken’, a squid so big he could crack the hull of a ship and toss it in the air. Who could forget the duel of Captain Jack Sparrow: “Ello Beastie,” he says as row upon row of ferocious squid beak descend upon him.

With the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise fresh in the minds of Adults and children, I went with the Giant Squid theme at a recent craft playgroup. I drew the Squid and painted around him. With bubble wrap and paint brush, parents and kids stamped the tentacles along his arms. Lots of messy fun!

Giant squid painting

Just add kids, paint and bubble wrap!

octopus and easter eggs 035

giant squid painting using bubble wrap


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The Print Society Pop Up Workshop

I tried screen printing for the first time last year and was instantly hooked (to the dismay of family members who received screen printed tote bags, baby singlets, onesies and tea towels for months!)
Today I did a super quick screen print half an hour prior to the school run, so it’s a tad on the sloppy side. But nonetheless, to use as gift wrap, and for covering my daughters school books…it will do!

Print Society Pop up workshop 003

Print Society Pop up workshop 009

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My Sloppiest work ever!

Looks like The Sloppy Jalopy! Oscar’s car from Sesame street.


If you live in Sydney and wish to see far more polished screen printing head to:

The Print Society Pop Up Workshop @ Gaffa, from Feb 11 – 23, 2013

281 Clarence st, Sydney

PSpop up WS

I’m planning to go this week and have a squizz at their new range of fabrics, cushions and clutches!


print society cushions 4


The BIG 7 List!

Why Do People Like Lists?

A list is a schedule, tally, program, outline, or time table.

Lists help us remember things. They relieve stress and focus the mind. Apparently they keep us from procrastinating. If lists are supposed to bring order to chaos then why do I feel Ugh about them?

Apparently our brains can only deal with seven choices before we become overwhelmed. When we’re faced with too many options we’re more likely to do the opposite of what we need to do (Scientific fact).*

Yesterday I had a list of domestic chores to wade through and health insurance to sort out. Instead I went shopping for maternity wear and made an Easter Parade bonnet! If I had made my list shorter, would my bank account be k-chinging to the tune of medicare rebates? Hmm, probably not. Nonetheless, rather than bore you (and me) to tears with a list that would read like this: Wipe down all appliances, clean and clear all flat surfaces, iron school uniforms…argh big yawn… I set myself a goal…to make a list that I can bravely attempt to stick to. My goal (if I chose to accept it) is to make 7 To Do Lists, with 7 Things To Do on each, for a period of 7 days.

Why seven? Science states that anymore and my focus will veer off track and straight back into shopping and crafts. Each To Do list is to take no more than 10 minutes to illustrate, and to be in someway reflective of how I feel about lists, and motivational if at all possible.

These lists will probably have my every day To Do’s: the washing of dishes and peeling of potatoes, however there will be no ‘Practice Kindness,’or ‘Eat more vegetables’ in sight. For me they will be much like a trip to the dentist: painful, but necessary, as on each list I will have listed one thing that I have been putting off for weeks and/or months.

Will I share them? Who really wants to know when I scrubbed out the oven or mopped out behind the T.V cabinet?

This is all a bit like a big dare for me, to see if I can really get on top of all the paperwork and grease traps I’ve been hiding behind craft for, for months!

cat in felt bed

I’ll link this up to http://meetmeatmikes.com/2013/01/52-lists/ where many, many folks are partaking in list making.

Last night I illustrated all 7 To Do lists, and here they are, my wall of procrastination.

to do list 2 photos 002

Work you do while you procrastinate

P.s. In Spanish ‘Todo’ (To + Do) means ‘everything.’ Ironic?


*Scientific fact sourced from studies in 2000 by US researchers Iyengar and Lepper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


Foxy Lady

Did you have a nickname growing up?
When we were growing up we had a neighbour who half snorted his speech. If this wasn’t endearing enough, he combined a well coiffed mullet with a teensy weensy pair of footy shorts, think Warwick Capper in his heyday and add a 20kg muffin top.
This fine fellow used to call my sister ‘Mala Lisica’. This translates to ‘Little Fox.’ Creepy.
Nonetheless, since my sister did bloom into a foxy lady turns out the (tainted) nickname was right on. In tribute to this shared childhood memory (that we can laugh about now), a skulk of foxes grace her birthday present gift wrap, each with his/her own nickname from Cocktail Cathie to Moves Marie.
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tails collage2
Mina Braun Fox


Bee my Valentine

Yep, it’s that time of year again, when people the world over turn to Barry White, a box of chocolates or a suitably soppy card to express their feelings for each other. As much as I’d love to be beedazzled by De Beers, it’s very likely I’ll bee seing less bling and more the garden variety token of love. As for myself, don’t know what I’ll be giving husband for Valentines yet, but it’s sure to bee wrapped in some very inere-sting paper.
Rather than droning on and on, why don’t I just show you how I made some beeautiful valentine’s day wrapping paper using acrylic paint, bubble wrap, thumb prints and a black marker pen.
 1 paint bubble wrap
Painted the bubble wrap yellow then rolled it along the brown butchers paper. Painted another layer of colour: orange/ red and rolled again in a different direction.
2 rolled out wrap and paint
The bubble wrap was supposed to look like honey comb. 3 bubble wrap yellow and orange
Dabbed thumb in yellow paint and made random thumb prints on the paper. Once dry, used a thick black marker pen to draw in buzzing bees. 4 bees in progress
5 bees wrap paper
I glued the  paper to the surface of a pizza sized box, all ready for an edible gift!

8 gift box

Now I have to find a gift for the box, and not the other way around. Just add card and tacky quote. eg. Let’s misbeehave!
Any other sickly sweet suggestions?
Bee my valentine


Living Doll

When I was growing up I don’t remember having a lot of dolls. I had stuffed toys, teddy bears and a concrete tub full of goldfish. This all changed when I started school and Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. Do you remember these dimple cheeked dolls? They smelled like baby powder, came with a name, adoption papers and a birth certificate! cabbage patch in blue dress

Well, I never got one. Not even the poor man’s version (sold without dimples). Instead I got ‘Rainbow Bright.’ Yes. As the name would suggest, she was a brightly coloured doll; there were several of them, each of a different rainbow colour. Mine had woollen tangerine hair and rainbow striped legs. Whenever other kids had ‘cabbage patch parties’, I would attend with rainbow bright in tow. Sigh.

tangerine rainbow brightAlas, at least mum had the foresight and kindness to provide me with a living doll. Eat your hearts out you Cabbage patch collectors, mine was a crying, talking, sleeping, walking …living doll. Just shy of 4 years old and I got myself a sister!

And she was a doll, someone to talk to, have tea parties with and squash the bejesus out of.


Next month my sister is turning another year wiser. I’ve made ‘I dream of Jeannie’ birthday invites for her, and am in the process of making a few easy to make birthday decorations, and thought to share them with you.

I dream of Jeannie picture frameI Dream of Jeannie picture frame. Made with cardboard, ribbon, pipe cleaners and craft glue. Jeannie is currently residing in the frame, however she will soon be replaced with a picture of my sister as a young girl wearing a hot pink dress with very large shoulder pads.

I dream of jeannie wine bottleOutlined with black marker and painted with 2 layers of acrylic paint. Just open and enjoy!

For more tales and tomes on dolls, pop-over to http://clarescraftroom.blogspot.com.au/

Jeannie Doll


If I were a Peacock Painter

When you look back on your life, and ponder the choices you have made, do you have one that you wish you did differently? The one that REALLY stands out from all the others? The shining beacon of all clangers?

The big one for me was NOT being an audience member on an Oprah show. Not just any Oprah show but one specific one. Over 2 years ago she did an ‘Australia’ piece. They were looking for Aussie butts on seats for a story on ‘Up and coming Australian Designers.’ Sadly I declined the chance to go as had just moved to Chicago and didn’t know anyone I could entrust my daughter with. The offer of leaving her with hair and make-up just didn’t cut it! Turns out the fashion story was a pfaff. We found out later that in her last episodes, Oprah went out with a bang! And this was one of those…. every member in that audience reached under their seats and found they had won a trip to Australia!

Oprah & Koala

….if I could turn back time…

In my next life, this is another thing I would love to do…..to be a Peacock Painter! Since 2008, this amazing group of women have made annual pilgrimages to Morocco to stencil the Peacock Palace, a boutique hotel in Marrakesh.

 Some of their beautiful stencil work

Peacock Painters Collage I

1 Peacock pavilions mirror

Peacock Painters Collage IIAlas, a schmuck like myself has to contend with stencilling furniture and childrens décor.

Below are photos of my efforts using stencils in a much less exotic manner!

Floral Screenprint

My stencils Collage 2

My stencils Collage I

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Rock Lobster!

Dr. Suess, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl all wrote nonsensical stories and poems. Nonsense writing can often be alluring because of its’ surprisingly deep meaning:

“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind.”

And at other times from it’s complete lack of it:

When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles
and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…
…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle
bottle paddle battle.”


Nonsense literature is a beguiling form of storytelling as humans desire to find meaning everywhere, in everything, even when none exists. Songwriting is also a form of storytelling, and so is open to nonsense lyrics.

The B52’s wrote a hit song in 1978 called “Rock Lobster.” It’s jam packed with nonsense lyrics, bopping, banshee shrieks and beehives to boot.

We were at a party
His ear lobe fell in the deep
Someone reached in and grabbed it
It was a rock lobster

Indebted to the joy of nonsense poetry and the humble rock lobster, I refurbished a plain timber set of chairs “Rock Lobster” themed.


I had previously painted the chairs in an Indian Red indoor paint which was not holding well in the great outdoors.

Sanded off the flaky bits and repainted all chairs with a more durable Cherry red liquid killrust.

1 chairs Delicious red

Loosely glued doilies to chairs and spray painted over them with Indian Red killrust in a can.


Loosely glued handmade coral stencils to chairs and then spray painted over them with killrust in a can in Ocean Blue.

1 coral stencil and on chairs

Loosely glued the lobster, crab and puffer fish stencils to chairs. Painted inside stencils with oil paints.

1 rock lobster stencil then on chairs

1 crab stencil and on chairs

5 Last 4 square

Now my BBQ setting is all ready for summer snags and sizzles!

4 All six chairs

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The Owl and the Pussycat

Pocket Art Owl and Pussycat Hanky

It seems that Paula Abdul got it right when she sang that opposites attract. It’s evident everywhere you look…Ying goes with Yang, peanut butter goes with honey and Bella goes with Edward.

 In 1867, Edward Lear penned a poem about a very odd set of intimate companions: The Owl and the Pussycat. These two fell in love, they sailed away for a year and a day in a beautiful pea green boat to the land where the bong tree grows. Upon landing, they swiftly married and spent their honey moon dining on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon, as they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, they danced by the light of the moon.

How to make an Owl and Pussy-cat in a Pea-Green Boat

collage 1Boat made with cardboard then newspaper paper mache and painted green.

collage 2Drew a content looking pair and glued into boat. Sails made with brown paper.

The owl and the pussycat gift boat

Added to the boat a five pound note and a wealth of chocolates.

I made this gift boat for my daughters teacher who started a ukelele club for the kids in her class and taught them The Owl and the Pussycat on the ukelele. Long reign Miss K!

The Owl & the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl & the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear