Driving Creek Railway

Whether you’re a passionate potter, a keen conservationist or into extreme adventures, the Coromandel Driving Creek Railway is worth a visit. I love watching my kids faces as they explore and question some of the thought provoking work of Barry Brickell, while wondering through the workshop grounds. In 1994 Barry registered 1.6 hectares of native forest with the QE II Trust. The native forest is home to regenerating kauri, rimu and ferns, protected with predator proof fences and can be view from a zipline!

Take a journey to the Eye Full Tower, travelling on New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway. The train zig zags up the mountain side. The track was created so that Barry could source clay from the cliff, carting it down to the workshop where the original brick kilns still stand.

Creative Kids

Even without access to a kiln, children and adults can have fun creating with clay using Air Dry Clay. I managed to buy some clay and acrylic paints through Spotlight, who delivered just before the covid 19 lockdown!
We cleared the table of our home schooling efforts, and gathered the tools, rolling pins and cookie cutters we thought we may use to make our creations. Over the next couple of days we worked, leaving the finished artwork to dry before painting them with acrylic paints. Most pieces were dry after 24 hours, however thicker pieces took 48.
I found this to be a fun activity for all my kids, ranging from 5 to 13 years of age. It was neat to see the different creatures that were made, and accessories for future play with their toys, adding to the imaginative storylines.

Pātea Photo Shoot

If you are addicted to taking photos of old buildings and ruins then the concrete jungle of Pātea Freezing Works will inspire avid photographers.

The derelict slaughter house is mirrored in the Pātea River, which leads out to an impressive breakwater at Pātea Beach.

The breakwater is an amazing artificial offshore structure which helps to protect the river from the huge west coast waves.

The Pātea Surf Lifesaving is currently looking for new members. They can be contacted through their Facebook page.

A walk though the town will take you past many historic buildings and features, including the Aotea Memorial Waka, St George’s Anglican Church and the building that houses the South Taranaki District Museum.

Aotea is a māori waka canoe that brought Turi and his people from Hawaiki, eventually arriving in Taranaki where they intermarried with the tangata whenua tribes.

Aotearoa means New Zealand – land of the long white cloud

ao -cloud, daylight, world

tea -clear, white

roa -length, long

Aotea Utanganui – Museum of South Taranaki is a noteworthy archive of district information, articles and items, offering a rich and varied history of the area.

utanga – burden, cargo, freight, load

nui -great, large, plenty

Pātea

-village, bush

tea -clear, white

Trapping

I finally got around to setting up my traps! In Taranaki there is a huge push to eradicate pests to create a Predator Free NZ,  and I cant wait to contribute.

When we lived in Raglan Whaingaroa I joined the Karioi Project  and monitored two coastal traplines. During a working bee, using recycled materials I built my rat trap. It’s baited with peanut butter.

I also have a stoat trap that I have baited with one on chickens eggs. I have placed the traps out of the way, but close to my chicken coop. Stay tuned to see what I catch!

I have registered my project with trap.nz

Waste not, want not

“If you use a commodity or recourse carefully and without extravagance you will never be in need”

We have started a new initiative in our household, where we are cultivating as much produce as we can, using the seeds from the food we consume.

I bought a couple of capsicums from the supermarket, and instead of putting the seeds and stem into the rubbish, I can either add them to my compost or chuck them in the garden, adding nutrients, feed them to our chooks or our guinea pigs, or I can dry them and plant them, creating new plants!

Another thing we are doing is utilising our plastic waste as seed propagating trays. Meat trays, yoghurt pots, margarine containers, biscuit packets and a cut down milk bottle make prefect trays. A lidded container I bought nectarines in can be turned into a mini greenhouse. I have pine seeds growing in one! Our kids bring home all their lunchbox waste and we try to find a home for it all. The seeds from their apples, watermelon, peaches, nectarines and apricots get dried on the windmill before being planted in the garden. I t could take years before they grow, but better to have good habits that could result in a plant growing, than just added them to our weekly rubbish collection.

I think schools should be encouraging this practice. Students could be propagating plants and selling them in recycled plastic pots for fundraising!

Washed up sea turtle!

The kids and I were pottering in the garden, when one of our lovely neighbours, popped over to let us know that there was a sea turtle on the beach! My future marine biologist children and I dropped our gardening tools and hurried down to the beach!

About 500m along, we could see the tracks in the sand, leading up to the sickly turtle.

The sea was rather rough that day and the turtle looked exhausted. We knew not to touch it, as turtle can carry diseases, but to protect it from dogs, walkers and quad bike riders we created a visual barrier around it using driftwood. My daughter found a bucket lid, which she used to try and get some water onto its drying our shell.

I phoned the Department of Conservation hot line 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) who advised us to keep watch over it and to continue to protect it from danger. The tide was on its way in, so we hoped it would return to the sea when the water came.

DOC rangers did arrive later that day and took the turtle to Massey University where specialist veterinarians assessed the turtle. They named her Waiinu. We were told that she had pneumonia and unfortunately died the following day.

Church Exhibition in Waitotara

Bringing the neighbouring communities together was the goal for the Waitotara Community Market. A group of loyal locals organised the event, hosting an array of art and craft stall holders within the hall and disused Plunket building. The group hope to secure the Plunket building for community use.

I was able to utilise the St Marks church, creating an exhibition of my ceramics and photography. The church, built in 1890, is a stunning example of the influential New Zealand architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere.

The church provided a peaceful backdrop to my artwork and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be involved with such an amazing group of woman. I wish them well in their venture to create a local hub in Waitotara.

 

 

Whanganui Art in the Garden

Been busy getting my ceramics ready for the Whanganui Art in the Garden weekend! This is a popular annual event organised by the Whanganui Potters Studio and held at a the QT nursery on Papaiti Rd. With 95 members, Whanganui Potters’ Studio has a proud 50 year history. Using various clays, glazes, kilns, wheels and tools, and a wealth of knowledge, they produce a wide range of traditional and contemporary ceramics. They exhibit twice a year, host artist workshops, hold monthly raku firings and beginner courses. The studio is located at 19 Taupo Quay. Opening hours are Wednesday 9.30am to 1.00pm and 6.30pm-8.30pm, and Thursday 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Collective Creative Community

Living by the sea you cant help but become connected to the moana ocean, and when you walk it almost daily  its disheartening to see the array of plastic waste that continuously get washed in with each tide change. Some people just don’t see the waste. Their eyes glaze over the brightly coloured pieces of trash tangled up with the driftwood and seaweed. But once you open your eyes, and divert your footsteps in the sand, to fetch a piece of plastic from the rubble you wont walk past another ever again.

And that change in behaviour is what I hope to create by creating a wire whales tail sculpture, commissioned by the South Taranaki Creative Community Scheme.

Making ceramic bowls and cups

Utilising an old concrete water tank, I set up my potters wheel and shelves and got to work, creating as many cups and bowls my clay supply could produce. With the music cranking and the kids at school, I was in my element.

Once made, I leave the pieces to dry over night, then cut (tidy) the bottoms of each piece, add any names using stamps and then put on my potters mark of LL.

After about a week or two of drying they are ready for a bisque fire to 1140 degrees C.

Once cooled, they are ready for glazing. The bottom (base) of the piece needs to be free of glaze otherwise once fired it would stick to the shelf. I like to coat the bottom with melted wax to ensure a clean line and a glaze free base.

Now the make or break moment. I’ve stuffed up a lot of work by getting carried away with glazing, but I’m often on the search for some crazy out-there results. I have the luxury of having my own kiln, which enables me to experiment. I would not want to create a mess or blow out a shelf in a communal kiln, damaging the work of others.

This is the retro Tea Dust glaze. Currently for sale at Honest Kitchen on Ridgway Street and in Whanganui Fine Arts Gallery on Taupo Quay in Whanganui.