Need a little support

Years ago when I cast handmade moulds with concrete, I formed my first ‘couple’. I managed to reproduce 10 of these before the delicate mould was retired. Now, I find creating with clay and firing each original piece is much more satisfying. Each piece is completely different, some even take on a direction of their own. I enjoy this process and am always excited to see the end result, when they emerge from their final firing.

On my first attempt of my couple in clay I put a vinyl cone support under the man, thinking that the woman could be built around him, but as I created, she started to slump.

Instead of scrapping the work, I went with the clay and love the result.

You could view the piece as a man supporting a weak or sick woman, or of a woman buckling underneath the pressure of holding up and supporting the man.

With the second piece, I built a support using cut down containers held together with duct tape. I covered the containers with a bread bag for easy removal. This ensured the couple kept their form. The support pieces were removed on day 2.

Being an egg donor, I am sensitive to the struggle some couples go through to be blessed with a child. I created a baby to fit in the couples arm, making the piece complete. While the piece was drying my three-year old daughter kept putting the baby back into the couples arms, when I would have it sitting next to the piece. I loved that she always wanted the baby with its parents, and not on its own on the shelf.

The piece turned out to be an interactive one. It’s surprising how the physical act of putting the baby in its place makes you feel good.

I sponged a black slip onto both pieces.

Unfortunately the glossy glaze did not give me the desired look. Perhaps they will find a home with someone. Thankfully art appeals to an array of people. I would have preferred a matt finish and will be purchasing my own glazes for future use, and applying a thicker slip.

Live and learn.

Preying on Pests

When Maori ancestors arrived in New Zealand, kiore ‘rats’ came with them. Maori valued these rats as a food source. They built ingenious traps which they baited with kumura. When a kiore entered the opening its head slipped into a snare that tightened around its neck.

raglan nz environment conservation karioi maunga ki te moana trap line pest predators eradicate stoat

When Pakeha ‘Europeans’ arrived they brought with them domesticated livestock such as pigs, cattle and sheep. Once a delicacy, kiore fell out of favour.

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Now days rodents and other animals such as possums, hedgehogs and stoats are considered pests as they compete with our native bird life for food and habitat. They also eat the eggs and young and attack the adults.

In Raglan Karioi Maunga te ki Moana are working to restore the biodiversity. One of the ways they do this is by monitoring over 800 traps deployed across Karioi Maunga and the Whangaroa coastline. It it through this organisation that we are fortunate enough to monitor 20 of these traps in a trap line surrounding Raglan Area School.

trap trapping pests eradication karioi raglan trapline

Karioi Maunga use the line to educate the school children, involving the students in trap setting, checking and monitoring. The information is recorded on trap.nz

This trap line gives me the opportunity to involve my children, ensuring they too grow up having respect for our environment and an awareness of conservation efforts necessary to protect vulnerable native species.

 

Mountain to the sea

Raglan is a global icon for environmental conservation and sustainability. Many of the residents volunteer in organisations that support the eco ethos of Whainagaroa.

Seeing a request on Facebook for volunteers to attend a trap building session I quickly jumped at the opportunity to join Karioi Maunga ki te Moana ‘From Mount Karioi to the Sea’. Being a wiz on the staple gun my efforts were put to good use!

Karioi Maunga ki te moana raglan trap building line predator pest eradicate

Karioi Maunga ki te Moana work to restore biodiversity from the mountain to the sea. They have a successful seabird monitoring program which identifies breeding sites of endangered native species such as the Grey Petrel Oi and conduct predator control in those areas.

Their predator control programme is extensive, managing stoat control over 2,000 hectares with more than 45km of trapping lines.

They encourage community involvement and provide advice, training and traps to landowners through their Backyard Programme.

The Karioi project provides educational programmes for adults and children. Activities include trap-checking, monitoring trap lines, workshops, community events and camps. Karioi Kids and Karioi Rangers is offered to local schools.

Their vision is that through the Karioi project people will develop an enhanced curiosity of the natural world and a love for nature.

Karioi Maunga ki te Moana

 

Some of the other Raglan initiatives include:

Whainagaroa Environment Centre are a team of dedicated individuals passionate about environmental education and building a sustainable community. They deliver education programmes, workshops and raise awareness about environmental issues.

Bag It Raglan are working towards Raglan being a plastic bag free town by 2019. They encourage business owners and residents to use reusable shopping bags. A group of volunteers meet each week to make a supply of bag using recycled fabric!

Xtreme Zero Wastes aim is for the community to eliminate waste to the landfill by 2020. With the help of volunteers approximately 75% of waste is being diverted to other uses. The Raglan Resource Recovery Centre is an inspirational and educational place to visit.

Permaculture  courses and workshops can be found at Solscape, where sustainability and holistic living is valued. Visitors stay in eco accommodation, experiencing a plant-based eco-cusine while attending their classes.

KASM  are Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. They are a community based action group who strongly oppose any non-essential seabed mining. Volunteers work to raise awareness of the prospecting permits being issued by our government, allowing resources such as iron to be mined. They aim to protect and preserve marine and coastal environments for future generations.

 

 

 

 

Destined for plant life

By now you should have all googled the meaning of your name, and the names of people in your life. It’s a fun way to see just how prophetic your name is.

‘Laura’, is derived from the Bay Laurel Tree which was commonly used in making wreaths, representing victory and honor.

laurel

I love that my name’s origin is a plant, and a very aromatic one at that. The Bay tree’s  leaves are leathery and stiff with a strong midrib, a lot like me!

And with my second name being ‘Rose’ its a double whammy for a life destined for horticulture! I studied a Bachelor in Applied Animal Technology, where I was drawn to paper selections including Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Management and Biota of Aotearoa. I have more recently completed a Certificate in Horticulture and will be studying Sustainable Management this year.

My favourite place to be is in the bush. My photography hobby has me wandering through the thick native bush, observing the array of fauna. My efforts can be found on my Instagram page lauraflora_nz and in earlier blog posts. We are extremely fortunate to have the Kaitoke bush track at the end of our street, where we will be starting a pest eradicating trap line.

Moving to Raglan I quickly found Karioi Maunga ki te Moana, an organisation whose focus is to restore the biodiversity from the mountain to the sea. I meet with an amazing group of volunteers to build traps and I currently monitor a trap line surrounding the Raglan Area School.

trap trapping pests eradication karioi raglan trapline

Even my art work has been inspired by nature. My beach combing behaviour has me searching for treasures to embed in resin or from textures and colours to replicate in my pieces.

Thankfully my husband is also drawn to earthy elements. ‘Timothy’ also has a meaning of ‘to honor‘. We both strongly value these natural connections which we are passing on to our children.

Cute little gifts

I will definitely be making more of these little guys. I made them for personal Christmas gifts but had a few requests for some! A cool scale roller and hand cut fish shapes. I leaned them up on a cardboard tube cut in half to give the fish a slight curve. I experimented with what ever shades of blue the Clay Shed had. Simple and sweet.

Glazed and out of the kiln

The dreaded school holidays arrived, and to keep me sane I made sure that I had a sack of clay at my ready. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to try; some mermaids, fish and this awesome shark I’d seen online, as an award for design. I attempted my first dolphin, of which I hope to create more of, promoting an awareness of the endangered maui dolphin, which occasionally frequents the waters of New Zealand’s West Coast. These pieces would allow me to explore with some colour in the form of slips.

 

I also had some more meaningful pieces I want to get out; the first being a figure of a woman represented as a bowling pin. A woman who is continuously, repetitively knocked down, and yet gets back up again, all to be knocked down again. Symbolising abuse.

The second brings awareness to breast cancer. A beautiful curvaceous woman, proud of her battle wound, having had a breast removed.

Fighters. Survivors.

 

Well after messing up my first two pieces, getting carried away with slips and glazes I had a bit of slip fun with the mermaids and fish, and got a wee bit arty with my ladies.

 

 

I love the red stripes, making the bowling pin imagery more obvious.

I’m not fond of glossy glazes so left my survivor lady without a glaze. A double firing of white slip.

The results…

 

Unfortunately the bowling pin lady must have touched something black while in the kiln, which has left a smudge on her back. The breast cancer survivor had a fleck of black glaze on her boob, which I could easily sand off with my rotary tool. I’m yet to seal her, as she has no glaze to protect her.

 

What do you think?

My next two ladies

Continuing on with my motherly theme I created these two ladies, my pregnant woman having a moment with her bump and the blessed mother with her child.

 

This time to make sure they didn’t slump I used vinyl, taped into a cone, covered in a bread bag as a support. After the first day a drying I could remove the cone and pull free the plastic bag. If more shaping was needed, it could be done then, before the piece gets too dry. The following day I used a cut metal knitting needle to reach the end of the hollow cavity to ensure there is a gap in the clay, about the neck, creating an escape for trapped air during firing, prevent the ladies heads from blowing up, potentially taking out nearby pieces from other artists.

 

I had fun with the colouring of these pieces, blending brown to green on one piece and using a selection of blues on my watery woman. Unfortunately I was told about englobes, and coated the pieces in Kakapo Green and Peacock Blue. I thought this would give the girls some amazing texture and contrast. The watery lady looked ok, perhaps a bit too busy and the green lady kinda just went a solid bright green. Not really the earthy toned lady I had envisioned.

 

Oh well, I am told that this is what pottery is about. Experimenting. Especially when you have a group kiln, and you are not in control of the firing temperatures. I think I need to do some googling research of glazes, slips and englobes and perhaps invest in some products to my tastes, hopes and dreams.

I have not been deterred.

Muse

World famous for its surf breaks, Raglan is a key destination for New Zealand tourists. But regardless of whether its pumping or not, Ngarunui Beach offers paradise to it’s punters. There’s definitely something very special to be found here, with Facebook page’s littered with requests for accommodation and work from overseas travellers, who have fallen in love with the place and never want to leave. The endless beach opportunities offer weather dependant entertainment. The harbour, tidal changes, estuaries and cliffs beacon to be explored. And being a firm west coast location we are graced each night by the most amazing and forever changing sunsets. Just you try to catch a green flash!

Can you see an ape in the rocks?

Bridal Veil Falls

Being new Raglan residents we thought we’d better get exploring all that attracts thousands every year. I started an Instagram @exploring_raglan, a follow on from @thecoromandelguide and @exploringhamilton and look forward to adding our adventures.

Bridal Veil Falls is a NZ must do, and a short detour when en route to Raglan from Hamilton. You take a left down Te Mata Road off State Highway 23, go thru the township and follow the signs until you come across the parking at the bush walk entrance. Be weary of thieves, taking valuables with you.

An easy pram and wheelchair friendly walk leads you to the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, 55m meters high!

Continuing downwards to the base of the falls is steep and tiresome, but definitely worth it. With viewing platforms and a bridge, you get immersed in the enormity of the Waireinga falls. The waterfall spray has enabled an interesting assortment of vegetation to grow on the sandstone walls, creating a tropical oasis.

‘Waireinga’ means leaping waters, referring to ‘wairua’  the spirits which leap the great height of this waterfall. Waireinga is also spiritually known by ‘tangata whenua’  the people of the land, to be occupied by ‘Patupaiarehe’, Maori fairies who are kaitiaki, the guardians of the area.

A photograph can be captured at the second viewing platform, where the origin of waterfalls name Bridal Veil Falls comes obvious.

 

 

 

 

On the move…. again

 

 

After 10 months in Hamilton we decided it was time to move back to the coast. With a surfer husband it was only a matter of time before we enlisted the help of local real estate LJ Hookers to draw in buyers to invest in our basic do up in Pukete.

After a month on the market we received an offer which enabled us to purchase the tiny 3 bedroom bach we had put a conditional offer on. We were thankful the tedious open home staging was over and we started downsizing our belongings. We were moving from a rather large 6 bedroom home to a 3 bedroom, with an amazing view.

Moving day had us jamming in boxes and bikes. I had booked a 50 cubic metre truck, and two burly men, however the guys turned out to be weaker than my 10 year old, and needed some training in Tetris, as the top third of the truck remained void.

A cat escaped from the car as the rain started. After a quick search all was back in order and we were off.

The excitement of our new abode was  quickly diminished as we found there was no power. I spent an hour trying to sort this while I directed colour coded boxes to either inside or to be stored under the house. The downsizing was going to take a while to get used to. Good in theory.

As boxes were emptied and thrown from the deck, belongings were shoved into cupboards. The kids beds were set up and their toys littered the floor.

We were in, well kind of.