5×5: Summer Rain

Online film-making community Vimeo regularly sets ‘weekend projects’ for their members. Recently they invited participants to create a 5×5 (a 25-second film made of five 5-second shots) showing aspects of a daily routine. Here’s my attempt, shot on a steamy, brooding Saturday. I realised when I came to editing that I’d been gathering the pattern of events that occur in the lead-up to a downpour, things like frenzied ant activity, gusts of wind and creatures seeking shelter, all while the sky darkens until the rain finally comes.

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Upcycling Pallets: the urban timber source

I’m a long-time admirer of pallets and am regularly delighted by the possibilities they offer for reuse and transformation into other useful objects once their life as a pallet is ended. Likewise, I’m often surprised by the quality of the timber used. I’ve used a red cedar pallet to make a light-weight bike crate, and a couple of years ago used another pallets to bang out an extremely rustic stool. I’ve been pondering some other pallet-based carpentry projects, and have gathered together some inspiration below. It’s especially exciting to see some craftspeople using rough-hewn materials with such elegance. The examples of intelligent reuse are seemingly inexhaustible, so I’ll update this post whenever I have the time and energy!

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Made by Hand

Made by Hand is a new short film series produced in Brooklyn, New York, celebrating, in the words of the creators, that “which is made locally, sustainably, and with a love for craft.” It’s a thoughtful, beautifully assembled series, the first piece a portrait of Brad Eastabrooke, of Breucklen Distilling Company, and the second, shown above, a piece on writer-turned-artisan-knife-maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. The films are inspiring, and offer insights into the nature of craft, the value of objects well made, and the kinds of communities that spring up around and in support of good, honest crafts.

See the full series at Made by Hand.

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Upcycling pallets: how to make a bike crate

Sophie's Belleville, with finished crate affixed

Since Sophie purchased her snazzy new bike, a three-speed, step-through ladies’ Trek Belleville, replete with racks on the front and back, she’s been in need of a receptacle to make those racks all the more user-friendly.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to hone my fledgling carpentry skills as well as implement my passion for upcycling. Some time ago, I’d spied a pallet abandoned outside a shop at the end of our street. The soft, silvery wood looked to me like red cedar, so partner-in-craft Jeremy and I returned later to collect it. Lightweight and easy to work, a bike crate sounded like the perfect use for such fine timber!

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An Urban Orchard – watch it online!

Getting our 2010 documentary An Urban Orchard online has been high on my list of things to do for some months now, yet I’m delighted to discover that someone else has already done it for me! The delights of the wired world! You can now watch the full film (divided into 3 parts) below (and thanks to iJohn880 for doing the hard yards!)

An Urban Orchard, Part 1/3

Part 2/3

Part 3/3

Enjoy!

 

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Baby Anticipation

Some friends of ours recently had a baby – Mathilde. In the lead-up, we organised a Baby Anticipation Celebration as we wanted both men and women to be able to share in the culture of looking forward to bringing a child into the world. Though don’t worry, we did still organise some traditional baby shower games such as “Guess the flavour of the baby food!” (as well as some other baby-themed games of our own creation).

Our parent-to-be friends bought a chest freezer to be able to store large amounts of cooked food prior to the baby’s birth. So as a gift idea, we asked guests to the Baby event to bring along a frozen meal to help tide the parents through the crazy months ahead. After all, every parent needs food!

At the event, we set up a craft station where guests could sit and make various kinds of origami animals and nice things out of nice paper (we had books showing how). We also asked people to write messages inside the origami, wishing the baby well. This origami was then constructed into a mobile and given to the parents later which they then strung up above the baby’s bed. Years down the track with the child they will be able to open up all the shapes and read the messages together!

The completed baby mobile

As a gift for the baby, I made a knitted tortoise (my first attempt at stuffed toys!). It seemed a good way of using up lots of small amounts of leftover wool. I found the instructions in a book called “Knitted toys: 25 fresh and fabulous designs” by Zoe Mellor. I did sew on buttons for eyes, then realised buttons are a choking hazard, so I will add felt eyes instead. I really like the idea of making a series of Depression-era toys – toys that don’t require you to go out and buy any items whatsoever, you just use up things you already have – bits of string, cardboard boxes, wood scraps, buttons, fabric or thread. Wool could even be ripped back from an old jumper or something. Joel has a great old black and white family photo of his Dad and uncle as small boys, playing nude in a tiny pool of mud in their backyard with a boat made of wood shards and a leaf sail. Awesome!

The completed knitted tortoise

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Time and change: the year of two houses, two bikes and four pumpkins

An experiment in marking time: the year of two houses, two bikes and four pumpkins, illustration by Joel.

Ever since reading Jay Griffith’s book Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, I’ve been fascinated by the extent to which our relationship and understanding of time is culturally constructed. Our system of numbering off the days and years and months and weeks, and splitting the year into four neat quarters bears little relationship to the reality of their origins: the cycles of the moon, the changing of the seasons.

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