Posted in February 2014 Lish Fejer

Lish Fejer as Artist in Residence- Exploding Cakes!

Forward by Sophie

You have to love a home made birthday cake.  They are an embodiment of time, you can almost see the clock ticking past midnight as you look at them. I love the detail, the transience and most of all the need to buy and entire packet of musk lollies for that all important doorknob.

Here is Lish the queen of cakes with her first artist in residence post.

How lovely is this Artist In Residence – thanks for having me.

For my first week I’m not going to put pen to paper but rather icing to cake. Next week will be present-art. This is past-art.

I’ve always liked baking cakes for friends and family but not just a cake that celebrates the milestone of the person but one that celebrates the marvel of that person as well.

And not just the marvel of that person in a static cake covered in marvel-making sprinkles but in true action-figure hero style with things that move or light up or bite or shake or bounce or surprise.

I was working at Questacon when I first discovered comedy cakes.  We were doing a workshop on how to engage kids in science and technology through hands-on workshops on pneumatics and hydraulics using nothing more than a couple of syringes (‘sealed for your hygiene’ without the pointy bits of course), some plastic tubing and milk cartons.  You could make things, pop-up, push-out, flip open or squirt stuff!

The following day, I was to make a cake for one of my students who did a science show called ‘ The Exploding Custard’ Show. To keep the cake relevant I decided I would make her a ‘Exploding Custard Cake’

Simple …. Cut hole in cake, make trap door which lifts using simple syringe machine. Birthday girl sees fabulous use of technology and comes to take a closer look and blow out candles. In the trap door, hidden by a jungle of jelly snakes is another tube connected to a syringe full of runny custard. Push syringe,  custard squirts directly into eye. Everybody thinks it is hilarious except person with custard in their eye and all is forgiven with jelly snakes!

I burnt out of cake baking after I burnt off my eyebrows during the afore-mentioned ‘Fastest Cake in the World’ where I fired a scone out of a cannon (Why is it the fastest cake in the world I hear you ask ….one second it was there, the next it was …SCONE!).  I also met my future husband with this cake and without those eyebrows felt I should quit while still a head.

I got back into it when I had little humans to celebrate.

The first one I made for Sammy was a broccoli tree cake. He ate the broccoli and we ate the cake. Perfecto.


Second one was more butter icing as a tractor and no interactivity apart from eating.


Third was more butter icing but a brilliant digger cake with lots of rubble to push around, letters in tim-tam block being moved around by machines. Excellent considering I was working out of a hotel/motel kitchen!

Then there was Millie.

Millies 1st was her favourite toy from the Toy Library …the ‘Rocking  Slug’ . Those eyes explode but the slug was structurally unsound and was twixed in twain!


Sammy’s 4th Birthday was ‘The Polar Express’ which had carriages full of fun things but this was the last straw for the butter icing in 40’C heat at the beach.


Millies 2nd Birthday – Big into bouncing we made a bouncing cake. Jaffas  were dropped from a great height, onto the spring-board and landed in the freshly made ..butter icing. Brilliant all around. Totally age appropriate and one of my better ones due to limited moving parts!


Sammy’s 5th, Treasure Chest with discoveries of treasure (If you are a rabbit)


Millie’s 3rd Birthday is a ‘Furry Toadstool’ cake where a little furry fairy pops out from the doors with some clever pneumatics, smoke and mirrors!


Sammy’s 6th Skull Cake … having discovered the wonders of roll-out icing, there is no turning back. I can cover just about anything in that stuff.


I’ve also done a few ‘adult’  cakes … meaning cakes for adults not adult themed!

Michelle, a dynamo of the highest order got a ‘All Singing All Dancing Solar Powered Birthday cake’ which actually worked. It sung happy Birthday when plugged into the choir.


Bec’s was themed around her love of getting her kit off at any inappropriate opportunity. This was a cake that could be undressed, the icing clothes thrown to the crowd to reveal underwear and pixelated ‘bits’.


There have also been a few exploding cakes in there and a few that haven’t been funny enough to mention

So, while I wouldn’t say I’m artistic I think I have it in my head. With some planning, an engineering husband, some kid free time and lots of icing it does become a nice artistic moment.

You just have to remind yourself not to eat all the icing off-cuts.

Posted in January 2014 Maggie and Oli, Printmaking, Uncategorized

January wrap up


This month has been hectic.  I have been trying to rent out our house, sell cars, get rid of life’s clutter and do all of the jobs around the house we could have done years ago.  I have also been psychologically getting my head around moving to Germany.  I can almost picture getting on the plane.  I can’t quite picture getting out the other end.

An oasis in all the bustle has been this blog and particularly Maggie and Peter’s prints.  There is something simple, bold and solid about printing.  The process takes away the clutter and leaves the essence of what you are trying to portray.  Thanks again to Maggie and Oli for being artists in residence.  I continue to get a buzz when artwork and experiences exist because of the residency that otherwise would not have happened.

I particularly loved Maggie’s insight

I was initially worried that working along side each other might be disheartening for a young artist, but if anything, I’ve been the one to feel overshadowed!

Thank you both for your work.

I have needed the prompt to take time out this month with the kids to have a wee go at printing stuff as well. It wasn’t as much as I hoped but as I mentioned there has been a bit going on! I am hoping to have a go at lino printing soon, I have never tried it.

And I was glad to include this photo this month it brings a sense of calm to life’s journey.  The reminder that it will never be linear, but when viewed as a whole, may it be interesting.


Posted in an hour or two, January 2014 Maggie and Oli, Printmaking, Uncategorized

Week 4 Bird Prints- Maggie and Oli, artists in residence


Here are two final bird prints which conclude our artist in residence!

I was inspired by Oli’s work last week to make a wren print of my own. He says I’ve copied him, but I insist that I’m just taking inspiration from a great artist! It makes me laugh, as I was initially worried that working along side each other might be disheartening for a young artist, but if anything, I’ve been the one to feel overshadowed! I can also say that having a buddy to work with has proved to be very motivating.

Oli drew a frangipani whilst visiting his grandparents this week, and today added a hummingbird.


I was impressed again that this was done with very little fuss, over two short hour-long sessions. We both feel pleased with our work, I think we’re getting better with our lino cutting technique and have many more ideas for future work.

I can’t believe we’re already at the end of our artist in residence! Thanks for inviting us along. We have enjoyed the opportunity to delve into art again and we appreciated the gentle encouragement and the weekly deadline. I thought we would have had more time to create more, but we’re really happy with where we’ve got so far. I am pleased to report that print making isn’t nearly as messy as I remembered it, and working outside takes some of the stress out of it, leaving the kitchen table free for meals. An added benefit to our residency is that our print supplies are now organised and much more accessible.

We’ll be sorry to say goodbye, but we’ve resolved to set aside some time every Tuesday to continue the journey. I’ll let you know how we go!


Thanks so much Maggie and Oli.  I have been really inspired to lino printing a go and will be over for a lesson soon!

Posted in an hour or two, January 2014 Maggie and Oli

Maggie and Oli in residence- Week 3- Linocut

Sophie- This is Maggie and Oli’s third Wednesday as artists called anyone in residence.  They are using the school holidays to have some mum and son printing time and this week they are trying out lino cut prints.  Over to Maggie…
We’re feeling very much revived after a few days at the beach. We had our print making eyes on whilst we were away and saw loads of great birds which have inspired us.  We have made some sketches and cut out designs.

photoOli blue wren-2

Oli set to work and has produced a linocut from his quick sketch and added colour. The text is from a Judith Wright poem. I think its a superb first lino print, produced with very little fuss. He has inspired me to push aside the perfectionist in me and take the plunge.  Less thinking and more doing will be my motto!

So on that note, my pelican…


We had a go at mono printing today, it works well with the sticky lino printing paints. Here’s Oli’s owl:


… and I couldn’t resist a haunted house scene with our black ink.


and finally, here’s one we prepared in colour! A hot day at the beach!


Posted in Artist in Residence, January 2014 Maggie and Oli, Making Art, Uncategorized

Artists in residence- Maggie and Oli’s Pelicans… the next step

Sophie- It is hot here in Canberra.  This week is hovering around 38 C around 100F.  Everyone is looking for water to jump into including Maggie and Oli’s Pelicans.  Luckily they found some !  This is Maggie and Oli’s second week as artists in residence.  They have been working on their Pelicans in between entertaining guests!

Pelicans are quite topical in our house right now.  We have been listening to Roald Dahl’s ‘The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me’ as an audiobook.  A Giraffe, Pelican and Monkey make up the ladderless window cleaning company.  The pelican’s job of course is to hold the water, the giraffe is the ladder and the monkey is the scrubadydubber.

Maggie- We did some work on our silk screening today, adding some cool water for the pelicans to swim in


Posted in January 2014 Maggie and Oli, Uncategorized

Week 1: Artists in Residence, Maggie and Oli with… Pelicans

Sophie- It is with delight I introduce our artists in residence (AIR) for the month, Maggie and Oli.  They are our first AIR team and it will be fun to see where they take us.


Maggie- We began our residency on the 2nd of January with a bike ride around the lake. I wanted to make some time with Oli to discuss our plans and find some inspiration. We talked about our options for mediums and discussed a theme.  We came up with ‘printmaking’ and ‘birds’. We’re starting with screen printing this week and a pelican.

We saw a beautiful pelican on our ride around the lake, who reminded us of Storm Boy (Colin Thiele), and the funny old poem about a pelican:


“A marvelous bird is the pelican
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can store in his beak
Enough food for a week
And I don’t know how the hell ‘e can.

At our half way stop on the ride, we talked about the question, if Art Were a Person….

Oli’s response was “If art were a person, it would be a friend, we’d have a calm and relaxing sort of friendship”.

Maggie’s reply: “Art is my very old friend, I haven’t seen her for some time. I liked her a lot when I was younger, she was inspiring and energizing to be with. These days however, I never to make time to see Art. I might bump into her when I’m out and about, she makes me smile, but she rarely gets invited into my house. I’m always too busy or too tired for her, besides, she is always so messy, I can’t be bothered tidying up after her! ………But maybe it’s time to find a way to reconnect with my old friend.”

Posted in Artist in Residence

This Month’s Artists in Residence are Maggie and Oli with Printmaking

It is exciting to have a family team as the artists in residence for this month, Maggie and Oli.  They  will be exploring (and pushing me, and hopefully you, to explore) printmaking.  I am looking forward to seeing what fabulousness comes from them this month.  More from them Wednesday.

I am in the throws of preparing for an international move so the thought of printmaking is exciting but feels potentially messy!  Not always the tidiest person I am trying to keep the house ready for exhibiting to prospective agents and tenants.  I will be exploring the small and tidy side of printmaking!

Another exciting project for this month is planning another art party for early February- Art Party, Forest Theme.  It is time!

So I am looking forward to more art from everyone this year and I am curious to see how the blog and I adapt to a change in continents.