The Alternate Root Cafe, Uralla

With a name to cogitate on “…This is a brilliant place!.. Great big space, beautifully renovated with the pressed tin ceiling, lead light skylights ,massive seating area, great staff and tasty food … Run by the friendly Rachel on the Main Street of Uralla.

We have spent some quality time here while I’ve been wrestling with the incompatibility of myself, images and my web site … but I have managed to compose myself long enough to compose a couple of blogs on this remarkable little town and some of its artists and artisans…. anyway ! … check Instagram. @thealternaterootcafe ! 

The Old Phoenix Foundry… Uralla NSW


Kerry, Paul And myself in the Old Phoenix Foundry

Kerry, Paul And myself in the Old Phoenix Foundry


The reason we’re here in Uralla this time was to meet up with Kerry Varley, the owner of the old Phoenix Foundry, as she was interested in talking to a blacksmith/Foundryman and getting a bit of an assessment of what may be of historic value and what may be junk left behind be various former owners.


Kerry is a retired Theatre Nurse with a passion to preserve the technology as a museum for folk a hundred years hence…. To that end, she is keen to establish a sort of “Friends of Phoenix”  group of Foundrymen, Engineers, Blacksmiths, Steam Buffs etc ( current or retired) to help with the organising of the place , the upkeep and restoration of same and most urgently the patching of some serious leaks in the rambling timber and tin structure.


This foundry has a collections of the original architectural cast iron lace that they sent to the Sydney market, along with the old smelting cupola.. the crucible and pouring gantry, the mould ovens, belt driven machinery, the old stem engine to drive them, a fully functioning blacksmith shop with numerous tools , swages and dies, power hammer (ont so ancient !)… A veritable treasure trove of historical metal that has to be seen to be believed!…. I have loved this place since I first saw it about fifteen years ago and fantasised being young and frisky and owning it.

So if you are interested in being a friend of the Old Phoenix Foundry, perhaps you could email me and I may be able to put you in touch with Kerry.

URALLA… My kind of town

My kind of town

My kind of town

A brewery of its own.. a campsite with a fireplace,(Managed by a good mate of mine, Paul, from Tassie days !) A Foundry/blacksmith shop, print gallery, several galleries in fact.. the wool shop, Coffee everywhere, a yummy meal at the Top pub! and this weekend , the annual art exhibition, craft show and lantern parade! .. Really guys ! Thanks!…Ya should’na !
The Uralla Print Gallery !
This beautiful space, Directed and curated by Rhonda Ellem, herself a very accomplished printmaker and fabric artist whom we (Rosie and I), last visited in her studio in Armidale in 2014 and featured in the blog then .. … Well her new venture (since July 2016), is an exhibiting gallery, the current exhibition being the photographic works of “traveling photographer”, Nico Coblyn…amazing landscapes, glad we caught this show ! You will also find Rhonda’s works on display, most notably a large woodblock print “Pandanis” on green fabric as well as the works of several other printmakers. Check them out on Instagram…… The Uralla Print Gallery .

So ! .. massive day in Uralla… heaps more to come … the incredible national treasure that is the old Phoenix foundry…( a call for volunteers). a story of a scholar and artist”s translation  of the Norse Beowulf classic scribed  with impeccable calligraphy …. ceramic artists .. and more ..much more…. too much for one post .. it’s doing my head in ! (Thanks Rosie for tech assistance! XXX!)

The Uralla Print Gallery

The Uralla Print Gallery





We, Rosie and I, are heading out on our annual Autumn Road trip….Hoping for the rain to clear before we leave in a day or two… We will take a couple of days to get up onto the New England Tablelands NSW and visit the old PHOENIX FOUNDRY in Uralla, near Armidale where we will also visit a couple of favourites of ours,  The New England Regional Art Museum NERAM  and The Armidale Art Gallery

We plan to travel down to the NSW South Coast below Batemans Bay and then across to Kosciuszko, , on into the Victorian Alps , over to Central Vic. (Dalesford etc) and from there, head back North to Barraba in central NSW, via Bathurst and the Turon River at Sofala…. 

We are hoping to connect and re-connect with Artists, Artisans and Galleries as we go and Blog it here…. Stay Tuned !


Sand Casting

Over the last few weeks I have been getting back to doing more sand casting.., and am now  learning, (on YouTube) wax carving tecniques to produce low-relief masters specifically for this sand casting process.


Sand cast silver Bloke ring

Sand cast silver Bloke ring

ART is the Last Refuge of the SELF

The shadow self in the furnace of ART... photo by Chris Weinmann

Workbench..The shadow self in the furnace of ART… photo by Chris Weinmann

In looking at the chaotic state of my bench and wondering at it’s correlation with Myself…

I had the insight that Art may be the last refuge of the Self.. (hiding from reality, clinging to individual worth…)

Art is a tool that defines the Self.. but serves to break down the walls separating Selves and signals the end of separationand isolation..Leading to Unity/Oneness.


Get your Inner Celt Happening….I Have Forged Some Brooches…

These are some ‘process’ pictures of my Forged Stainless Steel Annular and Pen-annular Brooches/Cloak-Clasps… I’ve put a bit of a Contemporary Spin on the Designs.. The Decorative element is cast bronze and is flying ribbon flags.. meant to evoke Celtic knot-work but not to be to literal.  A Pen-annular Brooch has an attached mobile pin and the Annular Brooch, a detached pin.

Core-Cast Rings !

Iv’e been on a steep learning curve in sand-casting rings.. learned how to make Cores using “Water-Glass” (sodium silicate) to harden the cores .. been meaning to sus this one out for awhile … Also! Ive ordered more BZNZ Cards from Express Cards without the help of my Noble and First-Born Son, Mischa !

Little hearts = BIG LOVE !

I’ve made a bunch of little $5 hearts on sticks for when somebody just needs a little love..or when you are told ..”No pressies please !”.. or if you need a sweet little garden sculpture  get SIX for $25 and watch them dance in the flowers.

Jewellery for a garden !

Some have Sparrows flying and one has an anchor and two hearts.. for the Pirate love of your life !