Friday, June 22, 2018

All that Glitters

With Andy jet setting off to UK/Europe and a public holiday, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to have a girly outing with Nana and headed off to the Cartier Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Cartier a house of jewellery born in 1847, was a family business which focussed on style. Over 300 pieces of glittering tiaras, sparkling necklaces to fashionable timepieces, were on loan from royal families, celebrities as well as the Cartier collection itself.

Armed with headphones for the girls to listen to the kids audio documentary we joined the rather long line to enter the gallery. The first few rooms were crowded and the pace was slow going as we gathered around each exhibit to read the story associated with each specific piece.

Ella bored of the kids audio tour quickly and preferred to take photos....hundreds of them. It reminded me of the time when we visited the Natural History Museum in London and entered the gems/ mineral hall where Ella took 500+ photos most of which were out of focus with the glass reflection obscuring the focal point. It didn't help that she was only 6 and wasn't tall enough to look into the cabinets. If I recall correctly, Andy and I retreated to relax on a nearby seat and left her to it!

Although (again) a large proportion of the photos were blurry thanks to the lighting and position of the jewellery, she did mange to capture a few good shots. Perhaps a photography course might be of interest and benefit to her in the future? And so here are a few items which caught our attention for one reason or another...

The girls were impressed (who wouldn't be) with this 478 carat sapphire one of the largest in the world made by Cartier in 1913. It was bought by the King Ferdinand of Romania for his wife, Queen Marie in 1921.

Ella Official 

During the first half of the 20th century, India and Persia were seen as fairy-tale lands with India historically being the world's principal source of diamonds. The Maharaja of Patiala, Bupindher Singh, in 1920 requested Cartier create a ceremonial necklace worthy of a King depositing a treasure chest full of jewels. The necklace known as the Patiala Necklace was the single largest commission ever made by Cartier. The centrepiece of the necklace was the world's 7th largest diamond the 'De Beers' which was surrounded by 2,930 diamonds, as well as several Burmese rubies and seven other large diamonds. Completed in 1928, the Maharaja regularly wore the necklace over the next 10 years until his death. It was then locked in the Royal Treasury of Patiala coming out for special occasions and ceremonies. However it disappeared in 1948. The De Beers diamond reappeared in 1982 and was sold at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva for $3.1 million. Then in 1998, 50 years after it went missing, a Cartier employee stumbled over the necklace (minus the largest stones) in an antiques shop in London. Cartier bought the necklace and took four years to restore it using synthetic stones.

Mystery clocks were conceived by Louis Cartier and the maison's clockmaker Maurice Couet after being inspired by the work of illusionist Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. This Elephant Mystery clock was made in 1928, featuring a jade carved elephant, rose cut diamonds, pearls, coral and mother-of-pearl.

Cartier has created many tiaras and many were on show. Possibly the most famous, the Halo tiara, given to Her Majesty the Queen on her 18th birthday. However it seems that it is not  the Queen's favourite piece of jewellery as she has rarely wore it herself and prefers to lends it to other to wear. Most recently Catherine Middleton wore it for her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

Unfortunately the photos of the Halo tiara were a little too sparkling (maybe overexposed!) but we have others instead to show you. Inspired by the shape of Russian kokoshnik tiaras, this one made in 1914 has a stylised art deco tree set on a diamond backdrop with 15 natural petals studded on the top.

The scroll tiara created in 1902 for the Countess of Essex is inspired by Malaysian jewels. The next tiara made in 1937 has sparkling aquamarines and diamonds.

The exhibition was a history lesson too. Much of the jewellery was made in the early 20th century - a time known as the Roaring 20's which saw rapid industrial and economic growth, an increase in consumer demands and many changes in lifestyle and culture. Young women especially demanded greater freedom, equality and independence. This was reflected in the vanity case like this one which in an elegant and compact form allowed a lady to smoke, apply lipstick and powder her nose! Made in 1924, this particular vanity case was made from mother of pearl and turquoise inlay with a large centrally placed engraved emerald surrounded by rose and old cut diamonds. 

Cartier is famous for incorporating animals from around the world into his designs with the panther being his signature animal becoming the emblem of Cartier. Again, following the fashion at the time, wild animal prints and skins, the first panther piece of jewellery to be created was a watch in 1914. It wasn't until 1948 that the first 3 dimensional versions of the panther would emerge with the Duchess of Windsor accumulating several notable pieces including the pave diamond panther with sapphire spots sitting on top of a large sapphire. This was Katy's favourite from the exhibition.

We spotted several bird inspired brooches  - a flamingo with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. It was another special order for the Duchess of Windsor in 1940 and in 2010 sold for £1.7m. The 20cm long bird of paradise, another postwar piece, has nearly 1000 diamonds sparkled in Ella's eyes.

Not all of the exhibition was designated to dazzling jewellery. One room represented the workshop, dedicated to outlining the journey from drawings to final piece.  The jewellery making process involve men and women who would design, polish cut, set, jeweller and plaster cast for posterity.

The Cartier Exhibition was well worth the visit. We spent several hours admiring the jewels, their journeys and place in history as well as a greater appreciation of the craftsmanship of the House of Cartier. Our morning was completed with lunch at a nearby cafe.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Birthday Bouldering

Katy's 9th Birthday Party was held at Blochaus, a bouldering gym in Canberra. Preparations involved making a rope dragonfly, rocky road, bags of chocolate rocks and a brownie bouldering cake! All great fun.

Having the advantage of not needing belaying, the small group of girls challenged themselves climbing different routes! It was tiring work and within an hour they required a break to rest those hands and arms! So we drifted outside into the sunshine (and carpark) for refreshments and cake!

Back inside, it was busier with many expert climbers making it look very easy! The girls continued to explore - the slackline got a work out as did the kids area with money bars, tower and mini rock wall.

Once the guests had departed, our family headed over to Capital Brewing Co for lunch, a small boutique brewery tucked away next to the Jerrabomberra Wetlands. It was packed! We ordered our burgers and chips and found a spot outside on the grass in the beautiful sunshine. It was great to relax and spend time with Andy before he flew out to Europe for 2 weeks.


The Year 3 students at Aranda buddy up with the Kindy students. Katy is excited to be teamed up with Banjo. Actually Banjo is fortunate to have two Year 3 students as Frankie is her buddy too! They do lots of fun activities together building the bonds of friendship across the years. Such a fantastic program to have.

Term Project

This term, Ella is required to create her own wonder of the world after studying the natural and modern wonders of the world. Demonstrating her love of birds, she firstly wanted to create a bird statue of liberty...then her attention turned to a giant fungi forest. The project due in week 10 includes building a replica of their wonder to be place on their desk plus a poster and oral presentation. Wondering about the construction therefore influenced Ella's choice. We threw around a few ideas before she pounced on the idea of a terrarium with fimo made mushrooms and fungi.

As we were heading to Bunnings to investigate potential structures for our renovated vegie beds, Ella did her own investigating for available materials for her project. We walked out of Bunnings with more decisions to make, while Ella walked out with her terrarium sorted!! Back at home she gathered a few more materials from the garden before beginning.

Unfortunately the fimo at home had dried out so another trip to the shops was needed to purchase more clay. Ella then set to work on the giant fungi and mushrooms for her forest. She added a plastic wombat - representing a Diprotodon (a giant wombat) - the largest marsupial to ever have lived! Ella also pilfered the hiker from my terrarium which together with the wombat add a sense of scale to her Forest of Giant Fungi. The accompanying poster and oral presentation is still work in progress. Hoping that the plants are still alive in a few weeks when the project is due!

Friday, June 15, 2018


It's great having birthdays on the weekend.... having presents and breakfast at a leisurely pace as our littlest bunny turned 9!

We couldn't hang around all morning as there was soccer to go to. Katy played goalie for the first time. She was worked hard. The move up an age division has certainly turned the tables. Going from winning games 12-0 to being beaten 5-0 requires a little bit of resilience on the girls behalf which is building slowly! Katy efforts at the match earnt her the player of the week award. Her team mates all enjoyed the cupcakes Katy had brought along to celebrate her birthday!

Back at home, Katy's friend Harper came over for a sleepover. Spaghetti bolognese was the dinner of choice followed by flourless chocolate birthday cake! Yum!

Public Holidays are.....

for exploring our local neighbourhood! A little cool but nice wander to the top of Mt Painter in search of birds. Unfortunately not many about.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Times have changed in the 20+yrs since we were at school. At Aranda PS, the students have their own chrome book (computer) in Year 4. This technology has a variety of advantages demonstrated recently as Ella and her friend Emma, prearranged to log on at 5.30pm to work on their writing piece simultaneously! Seeing each others suggestions, edits and notes they spent about 30mins perfecting their piece. Unfortunately it didn't make the cut into the School Voice - a section in the weekly school newsletter that focuses on news and current affairs written by the students! Perhaps it had something to do with submitting it the night before the newsletter was sent out?

Not at all deterred, Ella together with a different student wrote an article, which this time did make the cut and appeared in the most recent newsletter.