Saturday, 25 October 2008

Journey to the East

So most Canadians wouldn't consider Ontario & Quebec the East of Canada since the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island are more eastern.
But for a girl who's lived over four years in Vancouver (in a very western province) anything beyond the Rockies seems kinda east to me.
Anyhow, this year we start the Canadian education of the Kampung Girl. Which is why a trip was taken. Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston & the very touristy Niagara Falls.

And I must say, that if you plan to visit these cities, the autumn is undoubtedly the very best time to go.
Never seen so many variations of golds, reds, yellows & browns.
Never seen trees so dressed in their best.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

The cities were kinda fun too.

Toronto had hard-to-keep-a-straight-face
art in the most unexpected places.

And their ROM (no, not the Registry of marriages, rather their Royal Ontario Museum) looks like a jagged spaceship of steel & glass landed onto a centuries old cathedral. And no, the people in front of it are not running away from an imminent alien invasion. I believe it was a charity run thru the city.

Ottawa was pretty impressive with it's oldy worldy parlimentary buildings perched on a high river bank.
What's amazing is the countless rivers, riverlets, canals and lakes that are found within that area. Apparently in the winter, Ottawa's canals freeze over and it's citizens go skating on it. How marvellous!
And another bit of fascinating trivia, did you know that Canada has more lakes than all the lakes in the world put together?
As we travelled through this land of lakes & locks, rivers & canals, I can't say that I'm surprised.

We went to a place called Peterborough and saw an amazing lift lock. It's kinda like a lift for boats to get from one level of a river to a higher or lower level. It uses huge pumps to raise & lower the water-filled lift.

Quebec City was quaint and the most like Europe. With its sensibilities too. Like, the painted bicycles fastooned onto building walls and huge brightly painted flower pots remind me more of quirky colourful Amsterdam.

But the native Inushuk in front of the Provincial parliment house and the railway type architecture of the Hotel Frontanec feels very Canadian to me.

We ended the trip to the touristy Niagara falls. What to do?
We were so close to it and it seemed a shame not to visit this place that's I've know from American TV shows since I was little. B got us a room facing the falls and boy was it worth it! The view was gob- smackingly gorgeous.

Here's to
four good years
of the married life!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Bags of Fun

I can't stop! It's like the gears in a perpetual motion machine always working,whirring and engaging. Always searching for a new way to attach a pocket or a handle. Sketching out in my mind, kinda like a butcher, how best to cut a coat. Which pieces to become what part. For instance, could the lapel really be the edge of the cover flap of a bag? Wouldn't it be too asymmetrical? Too rad? Apparently not. Little Emma, The Recycled Suits Tall Messenger bag was snapped up hours after it was listed on Etsy. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

Ok... I'm getting ahead of myself. Last weekend after the frenzied making of suited iPod cozies, I had some time to start cutting lovely coat I got at the Sally Ann. It took some intimate getting-to-know, during this process to find out how the coat was made in the first place before I could deconstruct it. And it was fun! It was like learning to read in another language. Someone else had written her design and her work in this coat and the story was spelt out in the stitching.

Well, it looked like these 2 designs won out when it came to making my bags.

The first was Emily, a messenger bag and then came Emma, her sister and a vertical messenger.

Both their outer pockets were reworked from the coat's pockets and their straps were made from the coat's front button holes. This was so that I could make both bags adjustable for different body sizes and purposes.

The buttons also came from the old coat and I felt it gave a sense of integrity to the bags. As did reusing the inner dusky rose lining.

Since I have no talent for painting pictures, I guess making bags will just have to do.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

It Suites Me Just Fine.

Have you noticed how really well made men's suits are? Good suits have the best fabric and the stitching is sturdy & for the most part hidden. Ergo, this new line of cozies & bags I've affectionately dubbed
The Recycled Suits.

In the total other extreme of my pendulum swing from femminine, lush, shiny & silky taffetas, I've fallen for rough, muted, understated and stiff woolens & linens with the drama of a avalanche falling into a still lake.

What I love about this range is that it reinvents & reuses 2nd hand but thoroughly cleaned jackets that might have otherwise have gone to a landfill where it'll take up space to degrade over tens of years.
So not only will they be well made, but the bags & cozies will also be eco-friendly.
The thought of which always warms the cockles of my heart.

And, for my first offering - cool & dapper iPod cozies. The first three have just been listed on Etsy and have names befitting the type of jacket they were made from. There's urbane Mortimer, outdoorsy Fitzwillie and hunky Ken. The guys started out life as part of dishy double breasted suits. The left cuff of which morphed into the snug little cozies. In the spirit of reusing, I try to keep their original buttons and lining. They've been made tight and will snuggle most generations of iPods and many mobile phones, but was made specifically for the classic video iPod.

There are so many ideas fighting for attention in my brain right now for bag designs, I cannot begin to tell you. All are exciting and I cannot wait to get them out of my mind and into my hands...... Stay tuned to see which ones win.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

What's a Girl to Do?

Shopping is a woman's prerogative. Shopping and shoes. And hats too. And these days, interestingly enough also cars, the fuel cell or electric cars, especially the new and utterly delicious Tesla Roadster.....Have I left anything out? My point, perhaps. But I can get so easily distracted nowadays.

Okay, back to shopping. In these western cities, an amazing and indubitably exhilarating ritual exists. The day after Christmas, most of the stock in stores goes on sale. The wonderous and exciting event called the Boxing Day Sale. And they are real sales, not like the ones we have in Singapore, where items usually go for 50% -75% off the retail price. A concept that warms the cockles of my value-for-money Asian heart.

Anyway, I took time off and wandered the fabric stores to hunt for fabric, beads and tassels for the new 2008 range. $800 plus later, I have the pleasure to showing off the treasures plucked from the hands of other boxing day warriors.

There's the gorgeous tassel beads in a dozen dazzling colours.

Also found some brilliantly tactile flocked fabrics. The thinner ones are gonna be great for summer scarves and the nice thick ones for the flap covers of the new bags that'll be probably starting next week.

Then there's the sturdy, earthy upholstery grade fabrics, which are destined for lumbar pillows and the inside of bags that I can't wait to make.

And of course interspersed with all the goodies are the beautifully smooth and shimmery taffetas. The mainstay of Rumah Kampung's range of scarves. In soothing blue, cool titanium and juicy black plum.

Fab as these fabrics are, I'm sure that I'll not be able to restrain myself as I see other designs in the shops throughout the year. So I guess this cannot be said to be the all encompassing variety for this enterprising year of the Earth Rat. Which is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac and is said to be an industrious bringer of prosperity, luck and new beginnings.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Making Your Own Paper

The Materials

* Deckle (or any square frame with a wire/plastic mesh stretched across it)
*Mould ( another square frame of the same size of the sieve)
* A pair of stiff boards slightly larger than the sieve
* Smooth drying cloths slightly larger than the sieve
* A sponge
* A blender
* A tub or basin large enough to fit the sieve
* 50g or so of waste paper

The Method
1. Shred the waste paper and soak for at least 4 hours. Soak overnight if you plan to make paper the next morning.

2. Place a handful of shredded paper into the blender and fill with water to make up 1 litre.

3. Blend for about 15 seconds or until the pulp looks like wet cotton wool. Pour the pulp into the tub. Repeat until all the paper is used up. Add 2 more litres of water into the tub.

4. Place the mould over the deckle with the netting in between them. Dip the furthest end of the frame into the pulp mix. Level into a horizontal position. Make sure the frames are deep enough for the mould to be just covered with pulp.

5. Lift the frames from the mix keeping it level. The remove the mould and let the excess water drain.

6. Place a drying cloth over the pulp. Flip the deckle onto one of the stiff boards with the cloth beneath the pulp.

7. Use the sponge to draw out the excess water from the pulp. Gently knock the deckle netting to dislodge the pulp as you slowly lift up the sieve.

8. Repeat steps 4-7. Pile each finished sheet, separated by a drying cloth,on top of each other until you've used up all the pulp.

9. Place the second board on top of the finished pile. Place any heavy object on the top board to squeeze the excess water out. You could try standing on the pile if you want to feel more involved in the process :)

Paper Pointers

Some ideas to help make your new found skill more colourful, varied and fun

* Before you throw away the bottle with that last bit of perfume, add some water into the bottle and then pour the solution into your pulp. This nicely scents your paper.

* Stale potpourri, shredded and pulped with the paper will not only add scent but colour and texture to your papers.

* Should you want to be able to use markers or fountain pens on your paper remember that you first have to size the dried paper. This is easily done by lightly painting or spraying each sheet with gelatin or starch and then letting the sheet dry. Ballpoint pens, however, are fine on unsized paper.