Thursday, 30 September 2010

You know... have a short attention span when you start to graffiti your very dirty concrete with a high pressure hose.

Heart Jason being washed away

You know you have very dirty concrete when you can graffiti it with a high pressure hose.

Ah yes, the romance endures at the Sow's Ear.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Textured bark glass

I'm starting a collection. Clear textured bark glass.

There are two open shelves in our kitchen and I've pretty much shoved whatever doesn't have a home onto them. So, I've made the decision to have more stylish shelves, which are also functional.

Yes, it is very important world-changing decision making you are witnessing here.

So far, the collection is limited to textured fruit/dessert bowls and one vase.

iittala bowls, vintage bark glass bowls and sklo vase.
It would look brilliant to have clear bark glass en masse.

The plan is to have our drinking glasses on the shelves too. However, our drink ware is actually jar ware.

Our water glasses are old Allowrie jam jars (remember those?) and Thomy mustard jars. A lot of jam and mustard was consumed to provide us with our drinking vessels.

image from here

Sophisticated we are not.

This is what I'm envisaging instead.

iittala aslak cordial glass

something Swedish
Actually, just something that didn't originally contain food would be a good start.

I'm not rushing the collection though because the search is half the fun. I know that I will stumble upon unwanted bark glass in my travels.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bye-Bye lattice and hello Queenslander architectural art

This weekend we removed an enormous piece of lattice from the back deck. Don't fret. It wasn't original to the house.

The space above the rails is where the lattice used to be

We felt it was superfluous to our needs, since we have large leafy trees which offers us all the privacy we require on that particular side of the deck. Removing the lattice has made the space feel less claustrophobic.

It used to look like this.

Painting the exterior continued despite the adverse weather conditions. The area was completely undercover though.
This shirtless shot is especially for you Jane. xx

Jason worked like a Trojan. (Fortuitously, his middle name is Troy. Ha! His Mum should be proud he's living up to his namesake).

Some after shots of the deck this evening

We've used the dark brown trim colour for see if we like it.

I tried to take some photographs, but it was getting dark and they do not do Jason's painterly efforts justice. Anyway, there is still a lot of work to be done.

On another topic, there is an exhibition which celebrates the Queenslander House showing at the Ipswich Art Gallery. It was mentioned on the ABC's Stateline program on Friday, which you can watch, if you click on the link (it's only three minutes of footage).

Ipswich is 40km southwest of Brisbane and is one of the oldest provincial cities in Queensland. Its well-preserved heritage Queenslander homes are considered the city's greatest assets. Housing is still extremely affordable in this neck of the woods too.

Thirteen contemporary Queensland artists, such as Michael Zavros, were commissioned to complete "house portraits" using a range of mediums, providing their perspective of Ipswich's architectural history.

Great for the Queenslander house junkie. It closes 14 November.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Fabric designed by Melissa Bombardiere

I was the lucky recipient of some excellent hand printed fabric after putting my name down in a giveaway hosted by Melissa from Mel Bomba.

Normally, I wouldn't enter a giveaway for fabric as sewing is not my forte, however when I saw these wonderful designs I was compelled to enter.

Fabric: Green bell bird design and blue lily design

Sydney-based Melissa is a graphic designer by profession. Her print designs and patterns are inspired by her obsession with vintage fabrics.

For me, her prints have a distinct Scandinavian flavour and are somewhat reminiscent of Figgjo Flint Norway ceramic designs which I love, love, love. (I owe this to some Norwegian ancestry from Mum's family in Tahiti - those Nordic explorers!)

image from here
So, I have plans for my new fabric. Something pretty for my room, I think.

Thank you, Melissa!

If you would like to find out more, Melissa's Etsy store is here.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Anna Castelli Componibili by Kartell

As promised, here is another piece of plastic fantastic I received in my friend Chris' big furniture clear out.

Vintage Kartell round up Componibili unit in yellow

A vintage Anna Castelli-Ferrieri designed cabinet on castors, made of ABS plastic in the 1970s. This bright yellow unit has sectional pieces allowing you to add to it.

Versatile sectional pieces

It is a practical piece which has been snaffled up by #1 Son for his room. It will be something he will be able to use as a tween going on to teenager years. A fun classic.

These units have been in continuous production for over 30 years and you can buy them new at Space but the colours are limited to white, black and silver. Replicas are also available.

It is a vast improvement from the old drawers #1 Son used to have, which have now gone to firewood nirvarna. Thankfully.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Paint thoughts...

Thanks for your feedback regarding the exterior trim colour for the Sow's Ear. All the comments were gratefully received except for the spammer spruiking water softener... 

I'm on the fence about whether we do the Dulux Peppercorn Rent trim or not. But I do like it though. The main colour of the house will definitely be white, so it is only the contrasting trim we need to worry about.

We had been thinking about charcoal black which was recommended by some readers. And Littlemissairgap (can I call you Airgap?), if only it were possible to recreate the colour of an Oreo biscuit in a paint tin? I'd buy it too.

Also, there were two dreaded words mentioned by Jenny, as a cautionary reminder - Mission BrownRemember Mission Brown? Slightly reddish brown. The colour of the 70s and 80s.

While the rest of Australia is on a mission un-brown, undoing the colour sins of the past, Jason and I paused briefly at the premixed 15 litre tin of Mission Brown in Bunnings....then quickly moved on again. Yes, it is too soon to dally with this shade of brown.

And this is the precise reason why I'm hesitating with the dark steely grey blue colours. I like them, but I fear that they will be the mission brown of the noughties and 2010s...

Just to reassure you all, Jason's spot of impromptu house painting on the weekend will be limited to the back deck, at this stage. 

The back railings need to be repainted anyway, as they are flaking, so it is an opportunity for us to sample different trim colours before painting the rest of the house. I fully expect the exterior painting to be a long drawn-out process and will let you know how we progress.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Exterior house painting

What started as a small weekend task has ballooned to a larger full-scale task.

This morning Jason woke up grumpy, as you do when your reveille is interrupted at 5.30am by small but pesky children.

The way he manages his rage is to do some jobs around the house, like undercoating a couple of weatherboards on the deck. Again, as you do.

These new boards were added when we had the bi-fold kitchen windows installed last year.
We never got around to painting them.

But one can't stop at just a couple of boards. One must paint the entire wall.

One section of the deck undercoated. The final coat will be white.

And then one must go to Bunnings and buy a sample pot of a contrasting paint trim for the external sills, door thresholds, guttering and fascias boards.

The trim is a dark muddy brown, almost black in some light.

The brown trim is called Peppercorn Rent which is a strange thing to call poo brown. This is just a low sheen sample. The final coat will be glossier.

Looks like we are embarking on our exterior house painting journey. One wall at a time. I wonder how long this will take?

Anyway, what do you think of the trim colour? Too brown? Or should we just do the trendier dark grey or steely blue? Speak now or forever hold your tongue.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Herbs in a concrete laundry tub - update

herbs growing in a concrete laundry tub

The herbs in the concrete laundry tub are flourishing with only one casualty...basil.

The coriander and mint have taken off, the parsley has doubled in size and the sage and chili are chugging along well. 
dying basil

But the basil is having a tough time of it. Chania from Razmataz warned me that it may struggle as it likes to grow in its own pot. And did I listen? Well, I'm listening now and I'm going to give basil its own area, all to itself.

How fortunate we are that there is another concrete laundry tub lying around the garden waiting to be of service! 

I'm guessing this white one was the replacement for the original three section tub, but was decommissioned when the laundry was later updated. Or perhaps the previous owners had a penchant for laundry tubs...

double section concrete laundry tub
No prizes for guessing what we have planned this weekend.  I'm hoping the weather will be good for a spot of gardening. 

Also, if you've been following the Design Vigilantism posts, the Authentic Design Alliance has responded to our comments, clarifying their position. Read it here, if you are interested.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Giotto Stoppino nesting tables

My friend Chris, who is a bit of a furniture collector, was having a clear out of some of his collection after purchasing a most excellent "new" piece.

To make room and to earn a few dollars, he emailed his hit list of items to a few friends and that was then passed on to others who love their mid century furniture.

Jo from Desire to Inspire wrote an hilarious post about her purchases here. All Jo's vintage pieces were made locally in Brisbane.

I couldn't help myself either and decided that with Christmas just around the corner, this was too good an opportunity to miss. I bought a few smallish, but very cool items.

Like this Giotto Stoppino set of three nesting tables in orange made by Kartell in the late 60s and early 70s. I love plastic fantastic!

Giotto Stoppino nest of tables

It doesn't take up a lot of space and will be useful when we entertain this summer. I have to find a home for it, so a bit of rearranging will need to occur in the house. I'm thinking it will be fun in our front entry with the butterfly chairs.

Casalinos and Stoppino getting acquainted

I also bought a few other things in Chris' furniture clearance, but I will save those for another post.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Design Vigilantism Part 2

I received the most interesting comment yesterday on the Design Vigilantism post I wrote regarding choosing replica furniture versus original. It's a bit spammy, but interesting nonetheless.

We, the Authentic Design Alliance, were mentioned in that SMH article (don't worry, we didn't slash those chairs!). There are other reasons why buying counterfeit furniture and consumer products may not be the best option.

High-end designer furniture is usually made with infinite care and quality materials, so it'll last you generations. Knock-offs often last only a couple of years or so, meaning your money is wasted and you contribute to the glut of worn-out and broken products that end up at the rubbish tip. Even if the materials are recycled, you're wasting more resources than necessary in breaking down the products.

And an outrageously interesting study recently found that buying counterfeit products may increase your willingness to lie, cheat and be overall deceitful. 

If you don't believe us, check out our blog ( 

There's links to the original articles there, plus other posts and information on the site for anyone who's interested in maintaining original design in furniture and beyond. 

Feel free to add your comments to any of the blog posts- we'd love to hear your thoughts, even if they're the opposite of our own views. 

What do you think about the throw-away line on the outrageously interesting study?

Well, I had to read it for myself. The study was a series of honesty tests conducted on a large sample of women who were given either real or fake sunglasses to wear. The results revealed that the women who wore the fake sunnies were more likely to lie and cheat...The conclusion being:

“Faking it” makes us feel like phonies and cheaters on the inside, and this alienated, counterfeit “self” leads to cheating and cynicism in the real world."

You can read the original article here.

It all sounds like a load of codswallop to me, but then I'm no scientist. Just a bored blogger, who got a good chuckle out of it.

So, my dear replica-owning readers, tell me, have you noticed a marked difference in your behaviour? Are you stretching the truth since buying the replica Tolix chair or are you stealing money from your children's piggy bank since owning the "knock-off" Ghost chair?

Go on, be honest...

image from here

And to my non-replica owning readers, would a study like this influence your buying decision at all?

Anyway, my advice to the Authentic Design Alliance, if they are looking for people sympathetic to their cause, is that they are more likely to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Telling people they will lie more if they buy replica furniture is kind of polarising.

I certainly wouldn't be using this study in my public relations drive to the uninitiated. Save it for those already recruited to the Alliance.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Deck maintenance

On the weekend, Jason tackled general deck maintenance such as re-oiling the decking boards and checking for rotted boards that he could easily replace himself.

Fortunately, there was only one board which needed to be replaced. It was on the back landing which receives most of the weather.

rotten hardwood decking board

new Merbau decking board
It should weather like the rest of the boards - we're not concerned with it not being matchy-matchy for now.

Oiling the deck in sections

And then Jason oiled the deck, which we (N.B I'm using the royal We) ideally try to do every year. Last year when we sanded and oiled the deck, it decided to rain. Hmmm...soul destroying to see speckled water marks on the finish after all that effort.

Luckily this time around, the weather was glorious. The deck had been scrubbed clean beforehand, so it was ready for a light coat of clear decking oil.

Jason oiled the deck over a two-day period in two sections, because we didn't want to move the new (but heavy) outdoor table downstairs. We just shifted the table when the first area was dry, which took 16 hours.

Jason also insisted on using a paint brush. We do have a lambs wool applicator which acts like a mop when applying the oil. It definitely would've been quicker, especially since our deck is a largish 6 metres x 7 metres.

I probably wouldn't recommend doing it the Jason way, unless you like hard work. He said the brush gave him more control over how much oil to apply. I think he's just slightly OCD, myself.

Anyway, he worked like a trooper, so one should not be too critical, particularly when one's only job was to make coffee.

The finished result is just lovely. Bring on summer!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Wood rot rescue

It is very handy when your builder reads the blog.

Yesterday morning, the door bell rang. I was still in my pink flannelette pyjamas at 8.30am, folding a pile of washing.

It was Mr Rooney, our revered builder, brandishing his tool box, answering my blog plea for assistance to repair the wood rot on our deck railings.

There was no time for acute embarrassment for my slovenly state, because out came his cordless nail gun. He was a man on a mission.

This may or may not be Mr Rooney's nail gun of choice. He was too quick for me to jot down the exact brand.

Bang. Bang. Bang. 

He secured all the loose boards on the worst section of the deck rails - a quick fix until he returns to replace it.

With his steel-capped boots, he gave each section of rails the "I'm going to kick your head in" test. If they withstand an almighty stomp, they pass.

Thump. Thump. Thump. 

"Yep. They're good."

"It's just this section," Mr Rooney said pointing to the rotted boards. "That's completely rooted! (for my overseas readers, that's Australian building industry terminology for f*cked)

"Wood rot's like cancer. You can't really do anything to stop it. But I can replace this section easily when I come back to do the rest of the work."

And that was that.

In and out, like the breath of a nail gun gas cartridge. To return another day.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Surreal me

The two older boys have had Raw Art lessons at school. And the art from the last session was frame-worthy. It very much suits the aesthetic of the "art" we have hanging in the house - eclectic mix of everything.

My two new artworks!

Son #1, who is eight-years old, did a Picasso inspired pastel drawing of me. It will hang in the master bedroom.

A surreal portrait of Brismod

This is about as close as you're ever going to get to seeing a picture of me (I'm like the Stig). Love it, as you should of your own child's work. He's made my broad Polynesian nose so petite. Bless him.

Crazy fish pastel drawing

And Son # 2, who is five-years old, did a pastel drawing of under the sea. We think it is really cool, again, as you should of your own child's work. That crazy fish with the shapes floating around it on the dark painted background ticks all the boxes. He wants it to hang in his room.

They are framed in two inexpensive Ikea Ribba frames, which are perfect for this type of work. The frames also give their work a semblance of credibility that you can't get with blu-tack!

Hanging their work is quite a joyous thing.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Deck check

Spring has seen us emerge from the innards of the Sow's Ear and we are enjoying the outdoors more.

During the last few weeks, we've been giving the garden some much needed attention, but it has a long way to go.

Since we are outdoors more, we've noticed how grotty the concrete paths and deck have become. A good friend lent me her high pressure cleaner so I could clean the concrete under the deck and give the deck a spruce.

While cleaning, I inadvertently blasted one of the deck railings off, revealing some major wood rot.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, why is it that one minor job always leads to another? And it is always more substantial than the first job...

Just as well. It is better to notice now, rather than to discover it in the event of an accident. Two-year old Son# 3 will, no doubt, thank us when he is alive to see his third birthday.

Anyhow, it is a timely reminder that we need to check the deck - floor boards, joists and railings. There have been too many deck accidents in Queensland. The deck collapse two years ago in the suburb of Ascot, killing one and injuring several others, still sends shivers up my spine.

If you are reading this Mr Rooney, our esteemed builder and descendant of the Rooney & Co timber merchants, who pioneered Queenslander architecture (we like to know the lineage of our builders)...

We might need your help.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Design Vigilantism

Lock up your replica Eames chairs, because there is a hard-core Design Vigilante group who will be targeting you next!

I've just finished reading an extremely interesting article about the replica furniture industry. Apparently earlier this year, a number of designer lounge chair "knock offs" were slashed at a large Sydney hotel by an unknown attacker.

Heron Chair image from here
The slashed chairs were copies of an award winning design by contemporary Australian designer Charles Wilson. There had been some disquiet in the design community about a five star hotel having terrible quality copies of his designer chairs.

There is a belief, in design circles, that this vicious slashing is the first wave of attack by design purists in the battle against the forces of the 'evil' knock-off merchants. Design Vigilantism - a stylish, lisping Dexter who can recommend dazzling window treatments, whilst gutting your replica Egg chair!

This article raises the never-ending debate regarding original versus knock-off.  You can read the entire article from the Sydney Morning Herald  here.

What I found most interesting was the comments by Charles Wilson on the issue.

"I believe that after a certain period of time, a cantilevered tubular chair becomes a generic type and not a Bauhaus original. There is also an argument that if the companies that produce Eames and Jacobsen weren't living off the royalties from their old designs, they might be more inclined to invest in stuff by new designers."

However, he said ripping off a living designer was theft.

I tend to agree with Charles Wilson on this matter. No one likes having their work plagiarised, but after a lengthy period of time (or when the designer is dead) surely good design becomes a part of everyday life...even if the manufacturing of the item is dubious? 

What do you think?

At any rate, the article has put me off venturing into Matt Blatt, Milan Direct and all the other replica furniture stores. 

You don't know where those bad-ass designer vigilante types lurk...I wouldn't want to mess with them!


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Stainless steel outdoor table with Casala chairs

The new outdoor table and two long benches arrived on Friday afternoon. We bought the setting which I posted about a few weeks ago.

Wow! It is perfect for us.

Outdoor table with Casala chairs

It is the first brand new furniture purchase we have made since 2004 (we bought two king-size single beds for the children). We usually buy vintage/second-hand furniture, because often it is better made and of course cheaper.

We had been looking for something simple and durable for our covered deck - the stainless steel frame look with the thick kwila top was a favourite. The table also needed to be a good length and width for the space - the new table is 2.2 metres long X 1 metre wide.

This setting was made locally in Brisbane which is another plus. Apparently most furniture like this is made in China. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is good to support local business, especially when the price difference with an imported product is negligible.

The bench seats are fantastic for the kids and when we have a large crowd. Two Casala chairs are for the ends while the other Casala chairs are spare - they give us more flexibility.

Today, we gave the setting a workout for a Father's Day barbecue. It's rock solid and gets the thumbs up.

We are now using our large deck to its full potential. And those three sad deck chairs can be retired.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


I visited my Mum this morning.

And as you know, I always like to have a rummage around in her back room. My parents are hoarders. You never know what you find may find beneath a layer of dust.

A framed original oil painting?


A well known Australian artist, perhaps?

Well, no.

But they did have a sense of humour.

It will hang in #1 son's room because he likes the colour blue.
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