Life's a pretty precious...

Life's a pretty precious...

Saturday, 5 August 2017


Leather is one of our earliest and most useful discoveries. Wild animals were hunted for food then clothing, footwear and shelters were made from the hides. Nothing has changed since those early times - hides today are a by-product. Animals are raised for meat, dairy and wool industries, not for their hides. Approximately half of all leather produced today is used to make shoes and about 25% for clothing. Upholstery demands only around 15% of the total product. 



I've only ever known this bag as "The Pony Express" because it resembled the early mail bags.
It was my mother's and is now 70 plus 
years old. The metal clasp has been 
replaced, the bag restitched in places. 
It's one of my favourite bags which I have had since I was about 14.

Wall paintings and artifacts in Egyptian tombs dating back to 5000 B.C. indicate that leather was used for sandals, clothes, gloves, buckets, bottles, shrouds for burying the dead and for military equipment. The ancient Greeks are credited with developing tanning formulas using certain tree barks and leaves soaked in water to preserve the leather. This was the first record of vegetable tanned leather, which became a well-established trade in Greece around 500 B.C. Vegetable tanned leathers are still produced today and remain an active ingredient in modern tanneries. The Romans made extensive use of leather for footwear, clothes, and military equipment including shields, saddles and harnesses.

I bought this bag for my first overseas trip in 1974. I could lock it and keep my passport and traveller's cheques secure! I remember having to locate a little key and unlock the bag for security checks so that I could go into Buckingham Palace to sign the visitors' book. (I have no idea where the key was safely stored!) I still love this bag - and have no idea where the key is at all now!


In North America, the indigenous people made Tepees out of leather and leather clothing was decorated with beads, bones, porcupine quills, and feathers. Through their exceptional tanning skills, they were able to produce white leather, a particularly difficult colour to achieve. Fringes on garments served as a type of gutter that repelled rainwater from the wearer. The indigenous people introduced early European settlers to the technique of oil tanning.

Luxury is defined as " a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense."

I bought this piece of wearable art in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1986.
Brand name, NORMA, Canada.  I followed my mother's advice to the letter on this one about buying new clothes - "buy quality that you will love for a long time" - it was expensive quality and I have loved it for over 30 years.

“Leather as a material, right down to its texture and smell, will always have the potential to evoke a feeling of excitement.”

Fleet Ilya


Motor bikes and

My leather motor bike jacket was bought in J.B.'s Harley Davidson days 20 years ago.  Still as new, it's very warm, perfect for dressing up to go out at night in winter... My headband was a gift my Dad brought back from the States a long time ago. Turquoise earrings a gift from J.B. about ten years ago. Jeans from a local Op Shop for $3. And my trusty black leather boots which never age...

 ...however, the bends and climbs 
of  backroads and mountains on the Beemer require different  apparel...
even the pillion passenger has to look the part!


During WWI, German fighter pilots were the first to sport the bomber silhouette as a protective outerwear layer of their military uniform.
Function met fashion in 1928 when Manhattan raincoat maker Irving Schott designed the first motorcycle jacket for Harley Davidson. The jacket was dubbed the "Perfecto," named after a cigar and sold for $5.50.
From World War 2 military garb to the 1950s Hollywood tough-guy jacket to the 1960s when The Beatles wore leather to the 1970s and 80s when women began to wear leather jackets on a widespread scale to the 1990s casual-chic fashion to the present where the leather jacket can pass in any situation, casual or formal.  


I inherited The Blue from my beloved Auntie Lillian. She bought it 
in the 80s,  when peace, love and rock and roll transitioned to shoulder pads
and woman power.

My headband was a gift from one of my brothers after a trip
to South Africa - beautifully beaded (actually for hanging glasses around my neck but I've never had a pair of glasses which fitted the tiny plastic ends - and I much prefer wearing it around my head!)
I'm wearing my recently purchased white top over my twenty plus year old "Sark skirt"  named after Sark whose writings helped me through a very difficult period a long time ago. The beret...I was still a teenager when I acquired it.



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Sunday, 18 June 2017


Opulent, regal, sumptuous, sensual...VELVET


The term “velvet” refers to the structure of the fabric, not the fiber, i.e. cotton or wool. It is typically woven (the knit version is referred to as velour). The fabric is characterised by its pile, or raised loops or tufts of yarn that cover its surface. This pile is very short and dense, helping to give it a soft shine that catches the light in a unique way.

There are many different kinds of velvet, each with a unique look. For example, crushed velvet involves twisting the fabric when wet in order to distort the pile; this gives it a more textured look that departs from the typically smooth surface it is known for. Another technique involves using chemicals to remove the pile from the surface of the fabric to reveal a pattern; this is referred to as devore. Velvet has historically been made from silk, but can be created from a variety of fibers, such as rayon. (

Plush, elegant, expensive, smooth, rich...VELVET

 There are several theories as to where velvet was first invented. Though it has a strong association with European nobility, it is most commonly believed to have originated from Eastern culture. Pieces of velvet featuring low, untrimmed piles have been found in China dating back to several old dynasties, including the Qin (circa 221-206 B.C.E.) and the Western Han (206 B.C.E.- 23 C. E.). Samples have also been found dating even further back, as far as 403 B.C.E during the Warring States. These fabrics were typically woven from silk, referred to in Chinese as quirong jin or rongquan jin. Iraq was also one of the first producers of velvet, as was Egypt. Cairo was a production hub of velvet for a time, with pieces that date back to 2000 B.C. The technique to create it was so complex and time-consuming that it was an extremely high-end luxury good, available only to royalty and the very rich. (

My first Op Shop purchase was an "old lady" black and red 
crepe dress when I was 13. I transformed it into a mini and 
tied a thick red velvet ribbon around the waist...

 ...and have been in love with velvet ever since...

Exotic, alluring, foreign, luxurious...VELVET

I feel as though I could leave "The Map" in Bello and fly to some faraway land - on a magic carpet, of course ...
Velvet transforms... I found this gorgeous blue velvet dress - beautifully hand made - in a little Op Shop in Bello a long time ago and paid about $2 for it. The head wrap is a silk scarf, a gift  from a friend after one of her adventures in India. Earrings a gift from J.B. a long time ago...

And if the magic carpet hasn't arrived, there's always a street sign...


Once Europeans caught sight of this beautiful Eastern textile, it was immediately entered into trade along the Silk Road. Italy was the first European country to create a velvet industry for itself, which yielded wild success to many Italian cities that were involved in the craft of velvet-making. From the 12th to 18th centuries, these areas were perhaps the largest velvet producers, and subsequently supplied the material to all of Europe. It was extremely popular with wealthy buyers, and used in many luxury items such as furniture, clothing, upholstery, curtains- even wallpaper.(

The writing's always richer when 

Pre-loved luxuriously soft velvet jacket is fully lined. Wooden toggles instead of buttons; my own purple crushed velvet leggings (I have several pairs, different colours, so quick and easy to make - and so useful during our mild winter); Western boots I've had and loved since the 1970's...

 Velvet drapes either side of my desk...

Earthy, historical, dramatic, romantic,

Taking a step back in time...

 I made this gorgeous skirt for a two woman production - "Risks" - with (the other) Liz (who appears in this post:  in 1997.
The blue vest was bought new some time before 1997...


I bought this wonderful white top a couple of weeks ago 
from The Tree Of Life. Perfect for wearing with vests. I haven't been able 
to find another long top for ages and then - I was trying to find the bank because my new card wasn't behaving - I came upon the newly opened shop! The top was exactly what I'd been looking for. A ten minute hike later I found the bank! Sometimes losing my way finds what I'm looking for... 
My Earth boots make me feel I'm about to meet Robin Hood...

...while I frolic in my garden...


The Renaissance was a high point for velvet production, particularly the intricately patterned velvets typically associated with the time. This golden age of Renaissance (
fabrics lasted from 1400-1600.  As mentioned, Italy was the leading producer, although Spain also had a velvet industry. Renaissance velvets were decadent pieces, often woven from silk and threads of precious metal such as gold and silver. Typical customers for this kind of luxury were the church, or wealthy families wishing for customized textiles, such as fabrics bearing their coat of arms.

Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution– velvet production became mechanized, easier and faster to produce. Therefore, the textile so deeply associated with ultimate luxury became cheaper and more widely available. This association stuck however, and it was still used in garments favored by the upper class to add glamour to an ensemble. During the 1920’s for example, evening gowns and shawls were frequently cut from velvet, often the devore version mentioned earlier. In fact, the technique was popularized during this era. These decadent patterned fabrics became synonymous with 1920’s fashion.
Velvet has gained a special place in the classic fashions of other decades as well. For example, it fit in perfectly with the glamorous vibe of the 1970’s. Additionally, the 1980’s and 90’s had a love affair with crushed velvet and devore, and both were frequently worn by pop culture icons of both decades.(

 My own love affair with velvet continues...

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Monday, 1 May 2017

A NEW PRODUCTION... ANOTHER CHAPTER...this creative life...

Dance, Movement, Theatre...
Turn the corner.


Artist Potter, Sculptor...

Turn the corner.


I wanted to push through the red velvet curtains...They would return, glowing and breathless, pulling pins out...unzipping clothes and flinging accessories across the floor as a whirlwind of adrenalin pushed me aside.   
(from The Red Curtains copyright Elizabeth g. Arthur)

The young woman with bougainvillea red hair licked her silver encrusted finger, and giggled as she turned away from the passengers jostling each other beneath the DEPARTURES board. 
She shrugged her shoulders, in a this-is-delicious-try-some way, towards the young man seated opposite her. He glanced up, and as he crossed his feet awkwardly, his yellow fluoro socks dazzled the underside of the table. (from Till We Depart copyright Elizabeth g. Arthur)

I'm wearing a pre-loved cheesecloth skirt ($2 find at a market) - I love the way it moves; Vintage silk vest bequeathed to me by my dear Auntie Lillian. She wore it when she lived 
in Hong Kong in the early 1950's; my Naot boots...

Another Act, another costume...

Write...the breath, dance, theatre, movement, dynamics, colours...rush across the pages.
A choreography of words...

In the booth at the back...steaming, pen flies 

across the page...and in between, I sip...


Pre-loved and Re-loved silk retro skirt, belt, purple top, earrings...
 Location - Street Art laneway, Coffs Harbour, north coast
NSW, Australia.

The real millionaires are those who are doing what they really want to do.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


J.B. and I attended a wedding recently - outdoors in the beautiful autumn 
warmth, beside Boambee Creek which flows out to the Pacific Ocean at 
the northern end of the delightful village of Sawtell.

 I am standing at the lookout above 
where Boambee Creek meets the ocean. 
Bongil Bongil Beach behind me 
stretches north to Coffs Harbour.
Between the ceremony and the 
reception we lapped up the 
last sun of the day...


My vintage scarf dress was a gift my Dad brought back from the States a 
long time ago...I still adore it and still love wearing it.
The sleeves have wonderful minds of their own...


In 1863, a cutter carrying a load of cedar logs ran aground on what would become Sawtell Beach. A Coffs Harbour farmer named Walter Harvey assembled a team of workers to salvage the logs, and a small settlement developed near the site of the wreck.

Forty years later, the land around Sawtell Beach was purchased and subdivided by Oswald Sawtell for housing and farmland. Sawtell railway station, post office, school and hotel followed soon thereafter and by the 1930s Sawtell had become a thriving coastal village.
The original inhabitants of the land were Aboriginies of the Gumbaynggirr clan. The Aboriginal name for the land where the town now stands was Bongil Bongil.

 Sawtell Beach is below and behind of my favourite local beaches.
The beach has 'singing sand' when walked on in dry conditions. The sand grains have to be round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter; it has to contain silica and needs to be at a certain humidity...lots of fun "sand shuffling" across the beach to make it 'sing'.

Dad also gave me this stunning American Indian  Choker...


The Sawtell Heritage Conservation Area is of high local significance for its mix of inter-war and post-WWII commercial and residential buildings, the central plot including the four fig trees and other mature trees, and relaxed seaside ambiance. The street has developed a vibrant café and restaurant culture and its mix of shops, cafes, overhead tree canopy and seaside atmosphere is a tourist drawcard and a locally much loved aspect of the street. The street largely retains its original subdivision pattern, dating from 1923, and the result is a large number of individual narrow shopfronts which helps generate the eclectic mix of small businesses. This is a significant feature of the streetscape and the village atmosphere.

 The famous Sawtell Cinema...

I discovered the black velvet jacket in a vintage shop in Bellingen
some years ago (sadly the wonderful shop no longer exists). As the air cooled
the flying sleeves surrendered and tucked nicely into the jacket sleeves.


History of the Sawtell Cinema

The cinema was purchased in 1941. (It was previously used as a community hall, staging dances, church, public meetings etc.)  A tiered wooden floor to enable patrons to have a much better view of the films was added.
In 1955, disaster struck, and a mini-cyclone ripped through Sawtell – totally demolishing the cinema. While re-building, ‘the show must go on’ became the catch-cry, and Sawtell had its very own open-air cinema for the next 12 months! The projector was powered by an old Ford pick-up truck battery, and patrons would bring their own cap-guns for the Westerns and umbrellas for those rainy nights.
The cinema was rebuilt in triple brick and still stands today, despite disaster striking again in March 2009, when a metre of water flooded the town causing extensive damage and forcing the cinema to close for 6 weeks.
Sadly, after over 70 years in the same family, the property was put up for sale in March, 2012. 
The need to upgrade cinema technology from film to digital played a major role in the decision to sell, with a serious investment of funds required to update the cinema to new standards.

The cinema closed in January 2013 and was eventually bought by a local consortium with crowdfunding to help with its major renovation. It re-opened with great excitement in 2015. There are now 2 cinemas, (one large, one small) and although the old organ and leadlight wall features are gone, it still has retained its old charm and shows the latest release movies (sometimes ahead of the cities), international film festivals and special screenings. J.B. and I are movie club members and attend regularly (and usually combine it with a beach picnic or eating at one of the many cafés or restaurants). 

At the wedding reception there was a photo booth for the guests...
nothing like the ones I remember from a long time ago, sitting behind a curtain, giggling with a friend and then the flash going off before we 
were ready...this one came with an operator and many backdrops and choice
of print colour...