Category Archives: Creative Catalyst

Animal Panels for the Petting Zoo

Animalia – The exploration of animals and their habitats. Big, small, furry, scaled, camouflaged, horned,  domesticated, wild, from icy dominions, soaring heights, hidden depths and changing landscapes. Inspiration abounds. Is there an animal that inspires or embodies you?

Both Creative Catalyst (and the Sparks in their incursions into the Art room) will be exploring animals as the inspiration, subject and object of several projects this term. A variety of materials will enable us to express and manipulate animal forms in a several ways.

Our theme is reflected in the painted Animal Panels we are doing over the next two weeks of term to be exhibited at  the Canberra Show.

Animal Panels painted in collaboration with our students in our After-School Creative Catalyst Program will be displayed at the Canberra Show this year in the ActewAGL Farmyard Nursery or the petting zoo.  Featuring animal motifs and teaching fantastic techniques and tips for how colour, shape  and texture create an artwork go and check them out yourself!

Some of our giant paper mache beasts created over the summer program  will be visiting Tuggeranong Art Center.

Tuggeranong Art Centre are also  exploring animals during this year. They say:

Food, friend or foe; guardian, mascot or symbol, animals appear everywhere in our society. Ever present in the human psyche, animals connect us to the wild and anchor us in the domestic. Indulge in your pet passions, scrutinise the treatment of animals and receive some good old pet therapy as we explore the theme of animals across a program of dance, theatre, music, film and visual arts.

Give them a visit and see if you can find any of our beasties.

Fiery yak becomes Chocolate Moose


After we finish the Animal Panels  we’re going to branch out and explore sculptural forms in Little Dog Models in our Ceramic classes. Taking this as our starting point, Creative Catalyst will expand into Large Dog Sculptures for the following fortnight with all sorts of different canine creations coming together.

Following on from our Panels project, our Mixed Materials classes are going to be exploring different sorts of Kinetic Beasties, both in standing and mobile form.

So let your spirit animal roam free, find your totem, and explore the wilderness of Creative Catalyst’s Animalia Theme!

Scrying Bowls

With Halloween still fresh on our minds and the day of the Dead upon us Tuesday’s Catalyst class embark upon our Scrying Bowl project. 


Scrying? Down the ages, scrying has been a prominent means of divination & fortune-telling through the act of looking into a bowl of fluid in the hope of discerning messages or visions.

Into the bowl would be placed the water which would then have an ‘activator’ added according to need:

  • To see a world like the one you are in, add a pinch of sea salt.
  • To see a world significantly different from your own, add a drop of ink.
  • To see into the realm of the Fae, add one drop of the oil of a flower.
  • To see into the realm of the dead, add one drop of your own blood, taken from a pinprick.
  • To see into your own mind, add a drop of saliva.

Working in clay we will build a unique hand made bowl to be decorated with runes, text and images using the sgraffito technique for our own try at scrying.

Ceramic Tile Art

When clay meets with our imagination nothing is impossible. Monday’s Mixed Media Class is exploring the history and art of tile making and decorating – including an inspirational tour of Teffany’s amazing Hearth studio across the road during week 6.
A detail from a tiled mosaic peice in Teffany’s upcoming art show Hearth
A detail from a tiled mosaic peice in Teffany’s upcoming art show Hearth
From a simple slab to a multifaceted geometrical or figurative composition of forms we will create new and unique designs to transcribe onto the clay and will use slip, sculpting, stamp and line work with underglaze to furnish our final individual glazed art tile.

Horrible Preserves

Step into our Catalyst Apothecary full of the rarest, most bizarre and downright spooky ingredients and specimens one could ever imagine or require for their unique concoctions, blends and brews! To be ready just in time for our up coming ‘Halloaeon’ event at Aeoncademy.

Creative Catalyst - Horrible PreservesOur Horrible Preserves will tap into our collective fascination with all things eerie. Using polymer clay, paint and other mixed materials we will create a collection of weird objects – think eye of newt, toe of frog and tongue of dog or trolls ears, wolf fangs and dragon claws  – to carefully preserve in our own jar of ‘pickling’ complete with hand drawn label. 

NOT ONLY are Creative Catalyst mixing their weird and wonderful preserves, but the Sparks are getting involved with their own version of this awesome project, complete with hand-lettered labels, freshly disembodied appendages, and a special mystery goo.


Laura’s Nest

Spring is springing! To celebrate we will be inspired by all things nesting, from the residences of bower-birds and magpies to Fiona Hall’s recent amazing exhibition at the National Gallery, Wrong Way Time (we loved her recycled paper sculptures of real bird nests). Taking inspiration from this amazing springtime phenomena, together we will explore the incredible world of bird nests and then create your own version in clay. After design, construction and decoration the nest will be fired in a kiln and then taken home to adorn your garden.

Birds of a feather... A nest in progress!
Birds of a feather… A nest in progress!

Feathered Headdresses

Feather Headdresses

Wearable art is compelling and transformative – humans have been creating it for as long as we’ve been human. In most cultures feathered headdresses have been used to communicate power, meaning, magic, mystery and/or beauty – from the warrior cultures of the Native Americans and Papuans to the drama of the Mayans and Africans. Chinese Empresses have long enjoyed their exquisitely intricate head combs and tiaras coated in the tiny iridescent blue kingfisher feathers. The Torres Strait Islander culture boasts some of the most ornate and the British Georgians too were nuts about big feathers in their millinery: it seems everyone appreciates a good feather in their cap.Feather Headdresses

In Creative Catalyst we’ve been drawing inspiration from these diverse cultural artefacts to design and create their own wonderful headwear using fabrics, beads, ribbons and of course: feathers.


Spring is springing! To celebrate we will be inspired by all things nest like… did anyone see Fiona Hall’s amazing exhibition at the NGA, Wrong Way Time? We did and loved her recycled paper sculptures of real bird nests.

Fiona Hall, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 2005
Fiona Hall, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 2005
Laura’s nest

Using clay extrusions, free form sculpting and joining lets see what everyone can hatch in clay.


Quilted Bags of Holding

Bags are amongst our earliest artefacts: native peoples prized their medicine, pipe, knife, fire starter and amulet bags.

Papuan Marupai magical charm in its Bilum

Like our ancestors, Monday’s Mixed Media class will pay homage to the wonderful utility of the ‘bag’ in it’s many forms as we design, construct and decorate our own quilted bag of holding.

Is it a satchel or a purse? A pouch or a backpack? A saddlebag or a handbag? Does it hold treasures? healing herbs? or secrets?

We will explore the daunting world of sewing: from pattern making to fabric selection, from hand sewing to ironing on our quilted design. Then we’ll add bead work, buttons, straps and cords to finish off our various bags ready for carrying our own precious ‘somethings’.

Apache Beadwork bags.
Apache Beadwork bags.

Potion Bottles

Shrinking Potion? A bit of Polyjuice perhaps? Some Elixir of Life? Or is Truth Serum more your thing?

Potion Bottles

Creative Catalyst gets mixing with this project designed to wet your whiskers…Tuesday’s class will be experimenting with sugar solutions, dyes, glitter, spices, herbs, scented oils and a few other top secret ingredients to produce a truly one of a kind magical potion. Combining graphic design labels, fine sculpture and found objects we will create unique vessels to cater to their extraordinary contents.

Bejewelled Wands

Everyone needs their own wand… Is it a Wizard’s or a Fairy’s? Our Monday Catalyst class will create spellbinding and powerful wands that will explore their creative potential.

Bejewelled Wands

Working from aromatic pine tree roots we will start out by whittling a fine staff to enhance with sculpted polymer clay and embedded jewels learning many new skills and refining others along the way; object design, whittling with a craft knife (under close adult supervision), sanding, oiling, fine sculpting, detailed paint work and finally heat setting the finished piece. The possibilities are truly magical!