Monday, December 27, 2010

Basket case - the sequel

I managed to finish this in time for Christmas... just.

The inner tray was glued, dried, covered in two layers of newspaper and wallpaper paste, two layers of acrylic gesso then two coats of white paint followed by two coats of colour! This time a pale apple green made (from memory) by adding phthalo blue and a spot of emeral green to a lot of white paint and then mixing hard. Once it had dried I painted on little chintzy flowers all over - trying to get a patterned effect without any consistent pattern!

Finally the whole thing was filled with haberdashery, tied up with a matching ribbon and wrapped. And I'm pleased to report that darling daughter loves it and is now debating what she can make with her new treasures.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Basket Case

I picked up an absolute bargain at a monthly fair in Wagga Wagga a couple of weekends ago: I've been looking for something I can use for a sewing box for darling daughter but didn't want to spend big money on it. This was a huge $4!

This tray insert, designed to be big enough for things like scissors, tape, pins etc., is made simply from cardboard and glue and will be covered with papier mache and then painted. Pictures in due course...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Doesn't look like much, does it?! This is in fact a Christmas present for someone who shall remain nameless because although I suspect they don't read my blogs, I don't know for certain... Anyway, since we're in cheap and cheerful mode for Christmas this year darling daughter and I decided to knit and then felt a bag or two, using patterns from "Stitch and Bitch Nation" which we unearthed when unpacking boxes a month or so ago.

I've never knitted something and then felted it before so it was something of a relief when the big floppy thing I ended up with miraculously shrank down into a bowling bag shape, with nice firm fabric! Of course I'd made my task doubly difficult by choosing a bobbly wool/nylon mix - enough wool to felt (I hoped!) but an interesting texture. In these pictures the wet just-out-of-the-washing-machine bag has been stuffed with plastic bags to get an approximate shape while it dries; it will then be blocked and ironed into place.

Friday, November 19, 2010

First sale on Etsy!

I came back to my email just now and found a strange message which, once I realised, turned out to be a notification that I have sold my first book on Etsy; I am so happy! Clearly it doesn't instantly give me independent wealth but it is wonderful to find that someone likes what I am doing...
so thank you very much indeed to my first purchaser!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Christmas is perilously near and I am only just beginning to think about it... or perhaps I should say that I've been thinking about it a lot but have only just started doing anything! One of the things I shall be doing a lot of this year is making felt. It's easy, cheap and fairly fast, and doesn't make any mess! What more can you ask for?

My daughter attends a Steiner primary school and one of the first 'crafty' things they learn is to make felt, which they then use to make water bottle covers (wool is a great insulator so the bottles stay nice and cool), pencil cases and gifts. As a mother keen to get involved I, too, learned to make felt although the first techniques I learned seemed to involve lots of grunting and throwing scrunched up pieces of felt around!

Last year I paid a wonderful woman in Bellingen for lessons in felt making: Eileen has spent 40 years making felt and I was left with the distinct impression that what she didn't know about felting really wasn't worth knowing... She taught me how to make straight edges and how to make boots, slippers, hats and purses: "three dimensional" felt items made without sewing or cutting, using a resist to create pockets etc.

Recently another wonderful felt maker gave a workshop at our school and as I was unable to go I've been picking the brains of other attendees for hints!

Some of it is just a question of style, but some of it is also personal technique. This person was demonstrating how to make felt with an absolute minimum of water, washing up liquid and a jam jar! I hope I've picked up some of her tips. And a big difference: she used scissors part-way through the felting process to make different shapes.

Well last week I had a chance to do some more felting with friends and made the 2-pocket case you can see in the photos, using pre-felted off-cuts for the edging. If I can sort a couple of things out (sewing in some pocket dividers, for example, and adding the closure I forgot to felt in...) I hope it will make a lovely Christmas present for my daughter. It was a lot of fun! More felt photos coming soon...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's finally here!

Yes, Rhubarb & Ella the shop is finally open for business. You can find me on Etsy, with four sketchbooks to start off with, although if I'd had the foresight to note down a few measurements this afternoon I'd have been able to put up a few more sketchbooks too... You'll have to forgive me: I'm new to this game and have only just worked out how the Etsy system hangs together. Give me a bit more time and I'll be a bit more fluent about gathering the necessary information!

Initially I tried fancy photos with props: trays of coloured pencils, fountain pens, ink and bookmarks, augmented with potted orchids on an antique writing table... but sadly the results weren't good and so I resorted this afternoon to the tried and tested ingredients of white paper and sunlight! I think the photos are much better... what do you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010


So what is Rhubarb & Ella all about? Apart from the Rhubarb and the Ella, I mean. Well I suppose THIS is the place where I want to write about things I make and sell. I haven't mentioned the selling bit yet, mainly because I haven't managed how to work out PayPal yet, but all of this is moving towards the unveiling of the Rhubarb & Ella Etsy shop. Never heard of Etsy? It's a shopfront for all things handmade and is fantastic!

This is the first sketchbook I've made for my Etsy shop: 96 sides of beautiful heavy-weight etching paper, suitable for most drawing processes and some watercolour too, hard bound in bookboard lined with blue and silver hand-marbled Italian paper and covered with two-tone black/white bookcloth. Three small, smooth pebbles are held into the front cover with silver wire.

It's one of a series of books, all the same size, all with inclusions in the front covers: moire rose-covered bookcloth with a hand-blown Venetian glass bead; imperial purple bookcloth with a lovely pebble shot through with a narrow ridge of quartz; and eggshell blue moire bookcloth with three pieces of sea-glass held in with woven silver wires.

More to come soon...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waking up

Hello! Who are you? I'm Rhubarb, the crafty alter-ego of Sara, an artist and maker living in a sub-tropical paradise on the east coast of Australia. So who is Ella? Ahhh! Ella is a small friend who helps (most of the time), grumbles (some of the time) and comes up with interesting ideas which I attempt to bring into being.

Rhubarb & Ella is an adventure, a journal, a workshop diary and a To Do list all rolled into one. I can guarantee that jam-making, recipes, crafty making things, patterns, books, music and silliness will all put in an appearance from time to time, along with the occasional rant!

I do hope you'll drop in for a cup of tea and a chat: I'll try to be a bit more regular in my posting than I manage on my other blogs. No promises, mind you but I will try. Meanwhile you are very welcome to keep me company, post your comments, and investigate the links and photos in my posts and on the sidebars. I look forward to being properly introduced to you soon,