sallysetsforth

Art student

May 30, 2016

Wow, time has really flown this year! All of a sudden #blogjune has come around again and it's time to dust off all the draft blog posts that I've been cogitating on (sometimes in writing, but mostly in my head) and hit that publish button again and again. But before that starts, I just wanted to share some long overdue news properly ...

This year I've taken a year off work to study visual arts full-time :)

As many of my friends will know, I love creating and making. Although for many years I've been happy for this to just be a hobby - separate to my work, and confined to my spare time - I had recently started feeling frustrated at not being able to explore my creativity further and dedicate more time to it. Late last year I decided to take a plunge and apply for a visual arts course. Happily, I was accepted and I've been a full-time art student since the beginning of February.

There have been ups and downs. Although it's really exciting to be a full-time creative for a while, I also tend to put a lot of pressure on myself (especially in terms of expectations of success) and it has been really stressful on occasion. I've questioned myself, my creativity, my skills, my goals, my thought processes, my learning style, and the course itself. I've struggled to manage my time effectively, as I've over-committed and over-stretched myself for assignments. The course structure and teaching style is different to anything I've done before too, and there was definitely a period of adjustment while I learnt the ropes.

It was only during the Easter break that I really felt like I had made the right decision and was able to fully commit to completing the course. After weeks of spending all of my time on assignments, I finally had some space to work on my own projects for a while. I doodled, and I mucked around, and I generally enjoyed myself very much. But although I loved being back in my comfort zone, I soon realised that if I wasn't doing this course I wouldn't have moved away from it anywhere near the extent to which I already have this year.

So it has been, and continues to be, a worthwhile activity. Challenging moments still occur with a fairly regular frequency, but they are all valuable learning experiences and I try to keep remembering that. The end of the year is a long way off, but I'm excited to think about what I will have learnt and created by then. I'll certainly have a better idea of how I want to incorporate creativity into my life and work going forward.

Now then, I haven't posted much of my work online yet, and this is something that I definitely want to start doing more. Of course I want to share my learning journey with my friends and followers, but I'll admit I've been a little nervous about it too. Okay, and maybe just a tad disorganised as well :) Anyway, #blogjune will be a good opportunity to share and talk about some of the pieces I've created so far this year, and provide a little context at the same time.

I'll start off with this self portrait that I did in my first week of classes. It's made up of pieces that were cut from coloured paint swatches that I created to represent a range of moods and feelings.

Self portrait

 

25 more Christmas decorations in 25 days

January 4, 2016

As promised, here is the wrap-up of 25 Christmas decorations in 25 days for 2015 - the second year I've taken photos of Christmas ornaments on my tree for each day in December leading up to Christmas.

25 Christmas decorations in 25 days - 2015 mosaic

A few ornaments still didn't make it into the final selection of 50 (25 last year, 25 this year) but I got most of my special ones in. The full photo set of inidividual decorations is on Flickr.

It's a funny experience, posting about Christmas every day. If you love Christmas (and I do), it stretches the celebration out for longer - you're thinking about Christmas every day for nearly a month. On the other hand, I must admit to some Christmas fatigue setting in, though luckily not enough to affect the day itself.

Next year I thought I might do 25 Christmas decorations that aren't on the tree, such as wreaths, garlands, stockings, advent calendars, etc. But then again, I might take a year off and come back to that idea in 2017 :)

 

25 decorative days ahead

December 1, 2015

It's that time of year again! I do love Christmas time - for the family memories, the nostalgic traditions, the seasonal cooking, and of course the decorations!

I've already put up the tree this year and have decorated it with my favourite ornaments collected over the years. Some I made myself, some are purchased, some are gifts, and some are family treasures. Nothing matches, and there is no overall theme to my Christmas decorating - everything I love gets thrown at the tree, and I give myself permission to clash :)

Are you ready, tree?

We're going to need a bigger tree.

The tree underneath all the ornaments has been kicking around in my family for many years, but I have to admit that it is now struggling under the weight of more and more decorations as each year passes (I don't even put all of them up any more). It's looking like next year it will be time to upsize.

In the meantime though ... last year I posted a photo each day in December leading up to Christmas of the decorations on my Christmas tree. When I'd finished, I realised that I still had enough ornaments to do it all again this year (and then some) - so I'll be doing just that :)

I'll be adding photos daily to Instagram, Flickr and Facebook, and will collect them all together at the end of the year in a photo mosaic.

Below is the mosaic of the collection that I posted last year. By the time this Christmas comes around, I will have a new set of 25 to share :)

25 Christmas decorations in 25 days - 2014 mosaic

 

Cherry season

November 30, 2015

When we first bought our Melbourne home, one of the attractions was the number of fruit trees in the backyard. Since then, we have added some and lost some, and they are still a huge part of the pleasure our garden brings us.

One of the trees we lost along the way was a wonderful old cherry tree. It was on its last legs when we moved in, but we were able to get a few years' harvests before the tree finally died. It was a black cherry, with sweet luscious fruit. It was always a battle with the birds to get any for ourselves - we netted the tree, but were only able to save the inner branches, as the birds (and bats) would climb over the netting to eat any they could reach.

The black cherry tree had a companion red cherry tree, much younger and with tart red cherries that seemed almost inedible compared to their sweeter cousins. After the older tree died, we kept the younger one because of the shade it provides to the back verandah, and of course the beautiful blossoms in spring, but we happily left all the fruit to the birds.

Photographing some of the cherry blossoms up close before they all blow away :)

This year, for some reason the birds were a bit late to the party and the cherries ripened to a deeper red than they normally have the opportunity to. How wonderful, to see these red jewels nestled amongst the leaves of the cherry tree!

Our cherry tree is looking good this year - lots of fruit on :)

Of course these beautiful looking fruit had to be tasted, and although they were still on the tart side, as we remembered, there was a hint of sweetness that made us look at our red cherries with new eyes.

A pair of cute little cherries from our tree :)

So we started picking cherries - just in the nick of time, as the birds had finally woken up to their presence! - and were able to gather just over a kilo of fruit from the tree. We ate a few fresh, but we wanted to find out how they would turn out if we stewed or poached them with a little sugar to bring out the flavour and add a little extra sweetness.

I pitted the cherries (I will never regret buying a cherry pitter all those years ago!), and pulled out Tim's trusty school days edition of "Cookery the Australian way". I followed the basic guidelines to stew them with sugar and water, but I also added a touch of cherry brandy essence and vanilla essence to give them a little oomph. They were absolutely delicious! I loved the way the skins became translucent upon cooking, and the flavour was really lovely. They're amazing with vanilla ice cream :)

Stewed cherries with vanilla - so good!!

Now that we know what a treasure we have in our garden, we might have to get the bird nets out next year ...

 

A lovely last day

November 9, 2015

Last week I finished work at OCLC, having been there for just over 18 months. It's been a great experience, doing something different to any library-related job I've had before. I love to learn and take on new challenges, and I'm proud of the work I did at OCLC.

One of the best parts about working there is the people. Such a fantastic team of professionals who really care about providing high quality service to libraries. People who are intelligent, dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable and generous. I'm really going to miss you all :)

Thank you everyone for the farewell card with all of its kind messages, and for the very generous gifts! XOXO

Last day at OCLC. I'm going to miss everyone, such great people here! Thank you for the card, the gifts, the cake XOXO


Over the last few weeks, I made each of my colleagues a papercraft desk buddy to show my appreciation for them. Here's a mosaic of all of them together:

Papercraft Gifts (mosaic)

The paper models were all based on free designs I found online. I printed them on 160gsm paper and spent many evenings cutting, folding and glueing :) Individual photos are posted on Flickr - the designers are all credited, and links to the patterns are provided.

I'm currently taking a couple of months off prior to starting a visual arts course next year. It's all very exciting, and I will write more about that soon!

 

#ICAD2015 week 6 round up

October 5, 2015

Well it feels like ages since I last posted, and I guess it has been. I finished my last week of index cards over a month ago (I decided to stop at 42), but I haven't blogged about them until now due to a curious reluctance to turn on my home computer ...

Anyway, here's the sixth 'weekly' round up collage of #ICAD2015 (Index-Card-A-Day) cards:

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2015 Week 6 round up

I was really pleased with this final set, which includes a few designs that I like a lot. The centre card is a particular favourite, but I also love the spooky red paint and circle doodles in the top right, and the cool stripy circles on the bottom left. Finishing on a high note :)

Each of my index cards were also posted individually on Flickr and can be found in this set.

And that's a wrap for #ICAD2015 :)

 

#ICAD2015 week 5 round up

August 15, 2015

I'm still trundling along with the index card creativity challenge, even though July is now over. I'm not going to try to make it to the full 61 cards, but I haven't quite decided on an end point either. Maybe once I've completed 42 cards (6 weeks' worth). Or maybe a little longer ...

Here's the fifth 'weekly' round up collage of #ICAD2015 (Index-Card-A-Day) cards:

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2015 Week 5 round up

There are a few in this batch that I was really happy with. Doodling is still my fallback position when I'm creatively stuck, but I've really made an effort to try new techniques and colour combinations this year, and I'm happy with my progress.

I also want to think about how I can incorporate what I'm learning into my other creative endeavours. I think I might try my hand at turning some of my favourite designs into fabric patterns ...

All of my index cards are also posted individually on Flickr.

 

#ICAD2015 week 4 round up

July 19, 2015

June flew by, as it always does. I managed 20 blog posts, and a similar number of index cards. I'm pretty happy with that, considering everything else that was going on at the same time.

At the very end of June I came down with a nasty virus and chest infection, and everything ground to a halt. I still have a very sore throat and I'm not sleeping well, but I'm starting to find my feet again.

Yesterday I finally finished my 28th index card, so I can post a new weekly #ICAD2015 (Index-Card-A-Day) round up. Collage below:

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2015 Week 4 round up

The card in the centre has its very own blog post, thanks to being featured in Flickr Explore. The most recent cards have been mostly doodles - just trying to get back into the swing of things. I'm quite fond of all of these cards for different reasons, including a couple of childhood flashbacks with paper dolls and a spirograph :)

All of my index cards are also posted individually on Flickr.

 

The unusual experience of having a photo featured on Flickr Explore (29 June)

June 29, 2015

So an odd thing happened yesterday. One of my index cards was featured in Flickr Explore, and it was a very interesting experience ...

I first realised something unusual was going on when I started getting phone notifications for 'likes' (favourites on Flickr) at a much faster rate than usual, and from people that I didn't know. There were just 3 or 4 to start with, and my first thought was perhaps I was getting spammed. I actually had a quick look at Explore on my phone, but couldn't see my photo on the first page, so ruled that out to start with.

But the likes just kept on coming! And new followers too. So I booted up my PC, and had another look at Flickr Explore, and sure enough - there it was. Very exciting :)

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2015 no. 22

Within a single day, my index card "Roses" had racked up 6400 views and 93 favourites, and I had 9 new followers. Far and away the biggest reaction I've ever had to a photo in such a short amount of time.

I checked out my Flickr stats (I believe these are only available to continuing Pro users nowadays), which showed that while I normally get 200-400 overall views per day, yesterday's views had passed 7700! 5500 of them were for "Roses", so views were well up for my other photos too.

The day after ...

So. That was pretty cool.

It was also great to see that this kind of activity and interaction still exists on Flickr. It feels a bit quiet there sometimes, what with the rise and rise of Instagram. So it's kind of awesome that active users are still engaging with Flickr to discover new content :)


P.S. Before yesterday, my highest number of views for a single photo was one that I took at the Victorian Parliamentary Library, with over 13,000 views (but only 2 favourites). My most popular photo in terms of favourites was of felt Christmas ornaments that I made in 2009, which took over 5 years to amass 9500 views and 49 likes.

 

Special collections at the William Angliss Institute (28 June)

June 28, 2015

One of my first library jobs after completing my Grad Dip was at the William Angliss Institute. For those who don't know it, the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne is a training institution that specialises in food and hospitality courses. They specialise in vocational education programs, but also conduct a range of short courses for enthusiastic amateurs :)

There were two main perks to working at the William Angliss Institute Learning Resource Centre (Library). One was ready access to the Bakeshop, which is open to the public during term and serves food made by students at very good prices (I especially loved the work of the patisserie students!). The other perk was access to the amazing library collection.

I love cookbooks. At last count, according to LibraryThing, I have 218 cookbooks and books about food or drink, not including the shelves full of food magazines. So it's no exaggeration to say that I was in cookbook heaven at William Angliss.

But there was another part of the William Angliss Institute collection that was even more special, and that was the menu collection. This amazing collection of ephemera is truly one of a kind. The menus are mostly Australian, and are a valuable study resource for students who are learning how to design their own menus. They also provide a unique understanding of how food trends and menu design have changed over the last 100 years.

When I was at William Angliss, the menus were housed in filing cabinets and there were real issues emerging around preservation. A digitisation program was just beginning while I was there, and I was very glad to discover recently that not only have the menus been digitised, but many of them have also been made available online for anyone to view (Note: as far as I can tell, the digitised files are images only and therefore not accessible to those using screen readers).

P1010106

The online menu collection includes restaurant menus, hotel menus, transport menus, festival menus, military menus and more. I really love the transport menus, which includes over 20 Qantas menus and more than 50 P&O Cruises menus. I think this October 1963 cruise menu is my favourite :)

The other William Angliss Institute special collections are described HERE. Some are physical collections, such as the Fuller collection of books on wine, distilling and brewing. But there are some other digital collections too, including the Zimmerman Book, which is a sort of historic scrapbook of menus and articles. Every scanned image in the Zimmerman Book can be clicked on and enlarged individually. The William Angliss Institute also has a collection of oral histories on their website. Their annual special collections brochures are also available online, and provide information about what's happening in the William Angliss special collections each year, including new additions of rare books to the Culinary Research Collection, and some gorgeous photos of ephemera.

archiveroom_2

If you're interested in the history of food, and dining out in particular, you will love checking out these collections. Many thanks to the William Angliss Institute for making some of these treasures available online for us to enjoy.

Photo credits to William Angliss Special Collections.

 
Sally Cummings

Art student. Librarian. Crafter. Foodie. Geek.
And much, much more :)
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Maneki Neko welcome image (by IcoJoy)

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