Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Lucky me - I am spending a week in Melbourne, one of my favourite cities! There's always so much going on and around just about every corner you can find something interesting from the fabulous street art to offbeat little shops.
Yesterday I was on a mission to find a new photo album - sadly the leather cover of our lovely wedding album has fallen victim to Singapore's humidity and kind of gone mouldy. At least the photos are alright. I headed up to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy where there are loads of interesting shops - in fact I had already planned to visit Kami, a shop specialising in Japanese paper, specifically Chiyogami (decorative designs which are silk screeened onto strong mulberry paper). They sell fabulous albums, photo frames, notebooks - I could spent hours in there, and I found our new album there. Then made a fantastic discovery.
Just next to the checkout was a pile of papers - I took a closer look - marbled paper! This was not the usual psychedelic swirls of colour, but a limited palette of blues, greys and golds on white. It was exquisite. Organic, earthy, otherworldly, this marbled paper contained so many elements I love - especially the contoured lines, I ended up buying two (A1 size) sheets. I have no idea what I will do with them - they look great behind a light (though you lose some of the colour), and look lovely just loosely hanging on a wall...I found out that the paper is not Japanese at all, it was made probably near Chiang Mai in Thailand.

One of the joys of the inner CBD are the laneways of Melbourne - Desgraves Street is the first one I ever discovered. Just as you turn the corner it's like being transported into Europe. Little cafes line the street, the smell of coffee permeates the air and there is Il Papiro! This tiny shop sells Italian marbled paper products, notecards, notebooks, photo albums, you name it. The marbling couldn't be more different from my Thai paper. The swirling designs are far more controlled, intricate and colourful yet also very beautiful. I have to admit seeing all this marbled paper has made me want to try it out myself - and find out more about its history.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

natural orange

Wow! My first attempt at natural dyeing produced an amazing orange! It's quite incredible. I don't know how 'fast' it is (time will tell), but even when I rinsed the fabric very little colour washed out. I am very excited about this and hopefully this will make its way onto paper in a short while. This orange came from the seeds of the Annatto tree (Bixa Orellano), which apparently is used as a food colouring agent for margarine amongst other things. It certainly is pretty orange - I haven't tried to use any mordants with it yet, just keeping it simple for now.
I am also experimenting with eucalyptus and mango leaves - let's see where this takes me! I've go the fans on full but even so there's quite a strong smell of eucalptus...

ship building

One afternoon last week I spent making some paper boats with a couple of friends for a fundraising event in Scotland ( ). I might make a couple more before mailing them off... Mine were made from banana fibre paper I bought in Yogjakarta, a bohdi leaf, and also some paper with a tjap of a wayang kulit (traditional Indonesian puppet). I knew all that practise paper with wax stamps on would come in useful one day... I covered one of my boats with hot wax - this boat is seriously heavy! There's a few months to go before the deadline and if I get time I'll make a boat with fibres from the garden - I have a long list of experiments to do!