Thermometer showing mercury going up at 41C
Temperature is rising

Heatwave conditions have come to our part of the world. Going outside is like stepping into a fan forced oven. Fire is an ever present threat, already several have occurred in our locality, two this weekend. The wildlife is distressed, and that distresses me as all we can do is keep water out for them hoping they can find some shade and a little relief.

Wallabies under the may bush seeking shade
Seeking shade

The birds sit with open beaks, panting and holding their wings away from their bodies, too hot to even find enough energy to take a dip in the bird baths. The brush turkey digs into the soil to try to find a level that is moister or cooler but all we have is hot, dry dust.

Butcher bird not liking the heat

In fact it feels too hot to be in our own skin!

Shed snakeskin
Shed snakeskin

Crafting might seem impossible but in fact it has helped. Over this burning weekend I have been making mermaids. The palette of  ice blues and marine greens combined with thoughts of oceans deep has been cooling .

A small handstitched sea scene, a little pocket that holds a mermaid and fish,behind the sand with rocks,weed and  real shells.


Cooler in tone and effect was this small Sea Queen.

Small hand-crafted mermaid portrayed as a Sea Queen,with iridescent scaled and beaded tail,and arms that bend. Her hair is a mix of fine fibres and sparkle threads.
Sea Queen

The Lady of St.Kilda

Sailing across Carlisle Street.Balaclava,Melbourne on the rail overpass is the Lady of St.Kilda and her mermaid escorts.
Lady of St Kilda

For many years I have been intrigued by a mural of The Lady of St. Kilda who  sails over busy Carlisle street  in Balaclava Melbourne. Her ocean is the sky, the sound of her waves the traffic hum. Why is she there? I wondered. What is her story?

Recently I found a photo I had taken on one of my trips south. I had to know more and started to do some research discovering that  this  public art work was created by Alex and Ruvim Nemirovsky, in 1993. The historic schooner this mural depicts was moored during much of 1841 at St.Kilda,  a vibrant,beach-side suburb of Melbourne. The suburb, with a high Scottish population in those times, was named after the remote Hebridean islands of St.Kilda.

For me this rather whimsical art work brings to mind the voyagers and stories that make such a rich tapestry in myth, folklore and history, harking back to times when mermaids and sirens were believed to lure sailors to watery graves. In those times explorers thought the world was flat believing that bloodthirsty monsters lurked beneath the waters, yet they set sail in tiny vessels, to map the globe. These were the times when the oceans were a vast unknown that promised adventure and riches as well as danger and death.

Waves coming inand lost beyond the horizon
Endless Ocean

Many stories with sea themes tell of endurance, courage and despair. Often in sea tales there is  a haunting sadness and an ever-present fear of loss, like the crashing of waves, as hopes wash in and out of our lives. It seems that sea has inspired artists, musicians, poets and writers forever as an infinite source of wonder and yearning.

The shipThe  Lady of St.Kilda, is  named after Lady Grange, who was by all accounts a rather unpleasant lady. It seems that she was abducted by her estranged husband and some Scottish noblemen when she threatened to reveal their Jacobite conspiracy plans. Although she had nine children living no one in her family seemed to want her back. As a consequence Rachel Chiesley, the Lady Grange, was hidden and imprisoned for many years on remote islands in the Hebrides, including  St.Kilda,where she was exposed to very harsh conditions as well as isolation. Abandoned she died  in 1745, elderly, unwanted ,outcast and unloved.

Lady Grange,from public domain, wikipedia
Lady Grange, as painted by John Baptiste de Medina, 1710.(from public domain)

The despair, loneliness, fear and anger that must have been her constant companions are not hard to imagine. The sea to her would have been a cruel prison. Denied her former life, cut off from family and acquaintances, her situation was not unlike a Selkie who has lost her skin so becoming trapped on land or who, on finding her skin  has returned to the sea thus losing her human children.

Selkie Sculpture,Currumbin,Qld.
Selkie Sculpture,Currumbin,Qld.

At the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, there is a sculpture of a Selkie. Scarred and weathered now, she is by a lake. To see her at this location away from the ocean,  emerging from, or perhaps finding her seal skin, was strange. Lonely, listening, watching and waiting, always waiting, dislocated like the Lady of St.Kilda.

Selkie statue Currumbin,Qld.
Selkie statue Currumbin,Qld.

Felt Fantasy

little felt mermaid with her rainbow dyed shell keeper
Mermaid and Shell

This time sharing a  little mermaid project. The pattern comes from a squiggle made many years ago, now working on refining it.

These latest  mermaids are more in the Waldorf style with simple embroidered features. Another version appears in an older post, their features are sketched with pigma pen.  Those first mermaids frolic in a felt ocean and on a felt island. They are more of a nature table -story prop whereas these are intended to be play companions, and hopefully lead the imagination to amazing adventures and explorations.

To give the effect of a fish, scaley tail silver tulle was stitched onto the base felt.

These were a fun to create and a joyful contemplation giving an opportunity for quiet time to reflect whilst embellishing with hand stitching and beading.

Lately the sea has been a constant source of wonder and inspiration so it  was a natural consequence to delve a little into the world below,this is just a very small beginning as the ocean is vast and her wonders so many.

The shell keepers have also  been simmering

rear view of mermaid with detail of the textures in the hair
Hair and lots of it

for some years and it seems  needed the gorgeous rainbow felt dyed by Mia and Nikki to bring them from sketch to form. Here my interest in quilting and patchwork played a role to make them more dimensional.

As with other projects texture is an important aspect and these are meant to be touched. Their hair is composed of various fibres- feels very soft, begging to be stroked.Should the hair get tangled a simple matter to replace and/or enhance,even change completely.