Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The ice has thawed!

I won't bore you with my self-recriminations and apologies for not posting for so long.  Felicity puts it so eloquently in her blog http://textileseahorse.blogspot.com.au/   My life events may have differed, but the end result has been the same - a retreat into my shell.  And Felicity has been posting much more recently and frequently than me!
I have been creating, just not writing about it.  I have three unfinished, "absolutely-must-do" quilts which are presents waiting to be presented.  We also included a lot of our crafts in our stall as part of our street long garage sale.  And I have been running classes.  This latter has prompted me to post some of the results of a dyeing working I ran last weekend for one of my groups.

We explored three different approaches to dyeing:
  • sun printing with liquid radience dyes
  • ice dyeing with procion dyes (the photos are the results of this)
  • Eco-dyeing (which are still in the pots awaiting the great unveiling!)
The multi-coloured radiating piece second from the right in the first picture is by my daughter, Brigetta.  Isn't it awesome!!

I would like to thank Bonney from Kraft Kolour for her help and advice.http://kraftkolour.com.au/

Sunday, July 15, 2012


It is a long time since I last posted, but I haven't been idle.  Since my last entry, I designed and made this quilt for my friend's birthday.  You will no doubt recognise the traditional "friendship braid", representing the disparate elements that intertwine to form the relationship between good friends.  I have turned it on its head as a more positive, optimistic view.  This is a quilt in the modern style with large areas of natural linen to highlight the heavy quilting.  A quilt specially made for a special person.

We have certainly been experiencing a cold winter, and our cat has taken up residence in front of the heater - where she gets too hot (and very flollopy) and stretches out languidly.  Not very elegant, but certainly graceful!

Two weekends ago we went to the "Mad Quilter's Gathering" at the showgrounds.  While we enjoyed ourselves, it was very quiet, and the stall holders were certainly free to give us lots of attention.  Still, we did our bit to support the economy, and have been having fun with the dyes that we bought.  I will post some photos of the results soon.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I have actually been having a wonderfully creative time since my last post!  I attended the 4 days of the Australasian Quilt Convention here in Melbourne, and did a fabulous 4 day course with Kay Haerland on "Realistic Landscapes". http://kayhaerland.com/  Such a talented quilt artist and generous teacher!  AQC is without a doubt the highlight of my year!

This year for the first time, my daughter Brigetta and her friend did two days of AQC as well.  They did a day workshop with  Deborah Louie on free-motion quilting, and a second day with Lesley Riley on TAP and Lutrador.  They were definitely the youngest delegates and were made much fuss of, but had an absolute ball!  Thanks to Lesley and Deborah who were so welcoming and inclusive, and assured me that the girls had no trouble keeping up with the other participants.

The following week I was very fortunate to do a 3 day "Abstracting from Nature" workshop with Jane Sassaman www.janesassaman.com/ at Kraft Koulour kraftkolour.com.au/  So from realism to abstraction in the space of a week.  I reckon the creative part of my brain was glowing when I went to bed at night!  However, I am not sure that I really made the leap into abstraction....

For the International Quilt Challenge theme of Time, I had planned a long banner of the different life cycle stages of a dandelion, and have completed the design on paper, but have yet to do anything about transferring the idea into fabric. How appropriate this theme has turned out to be for me, because time has been even more of an issue for me this past month than usual.  And that means I am late with this challenge, and it is not even finished yet!

But...as I was working on this quilt, "Survival", I realised that it is really about time, so I hope it is not cheating to adopt this as my challenge quilt.  Not just because of the lack of time I have had to make the dandelion quilt, but because this quilt is about the really difficult journey towards survival (of individuals, families and communities) after a disaster.  It is inspired by the devastating "Black Saturday" bushfires, here in Victoria, just over 3 years ago.  I don't really feel comfortable providing an "artist statement" about the different elements, and hope that it is sufficient that the quilt speaks for itself.

Surprisingly, this is actually the result of the Jane Sassaman workshop.  I know, hardly abstract, but this is actually a very meaningful quilt for me, and I am pleased with it so far.  I will post another photo when it is completed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vintage Doily Bridal Bouquet

And a silver sixpence in her shoe
Here is my offering for "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" challenge for the "Art Quilts around the World" group that I belong to.  aroundtheworldin20quilts.blogspot.com  I only learned this week that the next line is "and a silver sixpence in her shoe", so that is the name of this piece.
I struggled for quite a long time to come up with an idea for this challenge, but once inspiration hit I was really excited, and I think this is my favourite of the pieces I have made so far. (Ok, well maybe "Endangered" is still my absolute favourite!)
Naturally I thought about weddings, and associated traditions, which led me on to bridal bouquets. 
 The "something old" are vintage doilies collected over the last few years for no particular reason other than they are beautiful and the result of somebody's work and creativity.  From these I made 10 petals, in graduated sizes, which are actually 10 small quilts in themselves.  As part of the quilting, I ran a gathering stitch about 3-4 rows in from the outside edge, and another one across the bottom of each petal.  When these were pulled up each petal formed a lipped bowl.  When you look into the flower you glimpse all the embroidery, including our favourite, the deer.  You can see petals at different stages of construction here...
"Something new" is a new technique for me of creating a 3 dimensional, structural quilted object.  I "borrowed" the inspiration for this from Lisette http://textileseahorse.blogspot.com.au/ and the beautiful piece she created for the International Quilt Challenge called Lumen.  "Something blue" is the one blue doily I included as an outside cupping petal.

The flower is attached to a thick cardboard roll, covered with soft green velvet to form the stem.

I have completely bent the rules for this challenge, but they are quilts with top, back and batting in between, so I hope this still meets the criteria!

Brigetta's Owl
 this is an owl I (Brigetta) designed and made using a polystyrene ball and some awesome hand-dyed felt. I got the basic idea from a local craft shop. 

Studio update
You know how politicians bury the bad news under other stories, well I am hoping I can bury the disgrace that is my studio after completion of the latest project.  So much for trying to keep on track!  Everything is usually spread all over the dining table, but one guest to dinner and it all gets dumped behind closed doors in the quilting corner, and I am back to where I started!  I am hanging my head in shame!

Monday, February 27, 2012

"I will lift up mine eyes"

Well, here is my first offering to the International Quilt Challenge http://internationalquiltchallenge.blogspot.com
The theme for this challenge is Architexture.
"I will lift up mine eyes".  Thread sketching on silk.  A3 size.

The quilt was constructed with a base of white homespun and cotton batting, covered with layers of white, cream and pastel strips of different weights and textures of 100% silk, from the stash for eco-dying.  You can see this underlying structure in the photograph above of the completed quilt, taken on top of the lightbox.

This then is the finished quilt as it will hang on the wall.
The image of the cathedral ceiling is sewn/sketched with black thread.  Running through my head was the mantra "anything I can draw, I can sew". (More of a prayer than a confident statement)
Having only joined this group within the last 2 weeks, I didn't have time to take my own photo, so the quilt is based on a photograph by Jan van der Crabben, accessed through Wikipedia, and covered by the "Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence" which allows the sharing or adaptation of images with attribution.  (The resulting works, such as this quilt, are then covered by the same licence)

I like the raw edges of the quilt and didn't want to confine it with binding (how appropriate that word seems in this context!), so I  gave the "idea" of an edge with some gold embroidered trim in the top left hand corner, with lines of sewn gold thread extending along the top and left edges.

I finished the opposite corner with a lace truncated cross - again discovered amid the stash of silks.
The rose window was not in the original photo, and I emphasized it as the focal point by cutting some gold silk to roughly fit the shape, under the overlying strip of white silk. I hope it is like looking at a glorious dawn or sunset through the window.
Wonderful and thought-provoking theme.  I am looking forward to the next one with this group!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Special Guest

Before I introduce to you my special guest, I am very excited to announce that I have been accepted to join the International Quilt Challenge http://internationalquiltchallenge.blogspot.com.au  !  A group of very accomplished and inspiring quilters, and I am sure I am going to really stretch my creativity in their company.  My first challenge as part of the group is due this Friday - to say it is a tight turnaround is an understatement!  Nonetheless, I have been turning ideas over, and the A3 quilt is now pinned awaiting stitching.  The theme is Architexture - which has triggered off lots of ideas and possibilities, but one which has really stood out consistently and persistently.

This past week, I have also made a birthday present for my 22yo nephew.  This is the first of a line that I am developing of "upgraded" plain Tshirts:
My husband modeled the T shirt before I posted it to my nephew.

Last Friday I was up way too early to join in a Handiquilter webinar on Threads, Needles and Tension.  Well worth the 5am (Melbourne time) start: full of useful tips and practical information, and not just for the Handiquilter, but for machine quilting in general.

So, now to my special guest.  Let me introduce you to my daughter, Brigetta, who had a very creative break over the summer holidays, and would like to share with you some examples of her ideas and work.  Melways is an iconic street directory for Melbourne and its suburbs.  With people turning to GPS, Melways can be found in op shops, and Brigetta had the fabulous idea to use them for decoupage:

cloud plates

tea tray

stretched canvas with stencil

Gotta love it when creative ideas just bounce off each other, and come to fruition through play and experimentation!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Journal Cover

Last week was the first P&Q class for the year, and I thought I would start by encouraging the group members to keep a journal: to jot down and further develop inspirational ideas; to keep tips, class notes, pictures and magazine articles all together, and to keep a record of their work and workings.  I presented them all with a new journal, and suggested that they make a cover for it - to personalise it and claim it as their own.  I have always loved the fresh possibilities of new stationery at the start of the school year!

I made a class sample, with some ideas they might like to include or extend.  The wonderful Rita from Red Pepper Quilts had donated a lot of generous fabric off cuts to the group, which we had fun distributing, and I also used some of this to make the class sample, along with additions from my stash.  All the materials are scraps (including the zipper).

 Some of the techniques included in this cover are:
  • design for function and aesthetics
  • string piecing
  • free-motion rotary cutting (no rulers!)
  • curved piecing
  • simple free-motion quilting
  • measurement vs fitting
  • inserting a zip
  • embellishments
While not a detailed tutorial, I thought I would walk you through the steps to make this journal cover / carry all, which includes a pocket for magazines and a built in pencil case.

The cover could be made of a single piece of fabric, or pieced fabric in any design that pleases your eye. Measure your journal in height, and the length of the measuring tape wrapped twice around the width.  I used a plain A4 visual art diary.

In my sample the strip pieced patterned fabric was 2/3 of the eventual height.  I then curve pieced a strip of unbleached linen on the bottom, using a merged Rosalie Dace / Ricky Timms technique, of overlapping the fabric right sides up, and free-motion rotary cutting in gentle curves.
I tend to leave my ruler on the fabric, but out of the way of the cutting, to provide a bit of weight and stabilise the fabric.  When the discarded edges are removed the curve is revealed.  Keeping the edges together mark the abutting edges being careful not to shift anything.
With right sides together pin at each of the matched markings.  The more markings, the more pins, the smoother the curve.

 The finished curve:

Using a scrap of batting I free-motion quilted the 2 layers together, with simple curves punctuated with occasional zig zags.  I also used this to try some of the new quilting threads I received in Superior Threads "Thread of the Month" Club.  Love the fluorescent orange!
I then trimmed the fabric to fit the journal.  The left-hand side / front cover would be a standard fit, but the right hand side was extended to wrap around the journal to include all the extra features.
To minimise any ridges and bumps in the fabric which would get in the way of drawing or writing, the flaps to hold in the journal covers are a single piece of fabric folded in half and extending almost to the spine of the book.  There are no hems and the raw edges are included in the seams of the cover.  In the photo below the journal has slipped a bit to the right, as there needs to be enough extra fabric to go around the spine when the book is closed.  Behind the book there is a lining fabric extending seam to seam and under the flaps.
With the book closed, the cover extends out to the right for twice the width of the book.  The first section includes a pocket for magazines/cuttings/loose pieces of paper.  The top and bottom edges of the pocket are again included in the seams of cover.  A side opening keeps all the papers in the cover when it is closed completely.

On the right of the picture above you can see a covered wide piece of elastic which is the closure for the journal cover when it is completely wrapped closed.
In the last section is a lined pencil case, with a zipper opening in the seam.  As this can get bulky, it sits on the very outside of the journal cover.
I then stamped a title on the linen, but really any embellishment could be used as long as it will stand up to your journal being carted around with you for whenever inspiration strikes!  Let me know in the comments section if you would like further explanation of any of the steps.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Organic Onion

I put in a heavy days work yesterday and sorted through my studio. Can't say I threw a lot out, but it's amazing how much space there is just by putting everything back where it is supposed to go! This quilt has been on the design wall for at least a couple of years, waiting to be backed and "finished". The longer it's been there, the less "finishing" I think it needs. I like the edges as they are, and really think I will just put a backing fabric on it to hide the stitching. The quilt is the result of a workshop with Caroline Sharkey at AQC about 3 years ago. We had to take along a photo that we wanted to interpret in a quilt using her "fabric and thread painting" technique. Everybody else seemed to have gorgeous landscape photos of sunsets, beaches and rainforests. I sat next to an astronomer whose photo was of a fabulous nebula. I had an onion...

Organic Onion

And this is the result of my clean up:
Quilting corner

Craft Cupboard
My plan to keep myself tidy is to publish an updated photo once a month that will either chart the developing chaos or shame me into putting things away!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paper Flowers

While strolling the neighbourhood, my daughter and I came across a luscious front garden full of tall corn, enormous sunflowers and various other vegetable and plants. But what really caught my eye was this plant that had broken through onto the footpath, and was beautifully decorated with these wonderful paper blossoms.We have also been having great fun trawling through op shops, and my find of the week is a collection of 17 view-master slide sets. Most of the photos look like they date from the 50s or 60s, although the sets were originally bought at least after 1969, as enclosed in one is a list of other titles available including the moon landing! How I would love to get my hands on that! The 17 that I have seem to be the souvenirs of someone's trip through Canada and the US. Puts a different spin on being invited around to someone's home to view their slides after their grand tour!
Fortunately I happen to have a view-master at home (doesn't everyone?), and while I am not yet quite sure how best to use / display these, for now we are just enjoying looking through them.

From a textile point of view, I have cut all the fabric for a quilt my daughter is making, and she has started sewing the blocks. I over-dyed my silk shirt, as the colours faded a bit in the washing, and I have been sorting through magazines, fabric and DVDs. The tomatoes are ripening and we are enjoying plucking the leaves off the lettuce plants for salads.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welcome and Introduction

Thank you for visiting! It's still nearly the beginning of 2012, and a good time to finally put myself out there with an individual blog. I have been a member of the group blog and challenge group "Art quilts around the world" :

since its inception, but as I am spreading my creative wings this year and entering the world of teaching Patchwork and Quilting, I thought I should celebrate and consolidate by setting up my own blog. Much of it will be my excursions into art quilts, but also into other textile art areas, such as eco-dyeing. Speaking of which, this weekend my daughter and I have been re-claiming silk shirts hunted out at op shops: We used eucalyptus leaves gathered from the ground on a recent bushwalk, as well as fresh strawberries, rose leaves (saved from a recent birthday bunch) and red prunus. Oh, and leaves and gumnuts from a couple of branches that had fallen in the carpark of our local shops during Melbourne's recent wild weather. I have been loving eco-dyeing since a workshop with India Flint last year.

If you have traced me from "art quilts around the world", you may have seen some of my quilts on that site. For example:
Endangered June 2011

Ammonoid September 2009

The tree of life August 2008

My other big challenge for 2012 is to re-organise my tiny, over-stocked, packed to the rafters studio and keep it that way! About 3 times a year I tidy it all up, but before too long it is out of control again. I know I have way too much stuff, and keep stumbling across more treasures, but I also find that I often have stashed away just the right tool or piece of fabric or ribbon for a project, if I can just get to it. So I figure if I post a public photo with a promise to update it with a gob-smackingly awesome one of everything in its place and a place for everything, it will help me keep on track.

my quilting corner

the benchtop

Finally, a word about the title "Contextile Quilting". Contextile is a contraction of the three main foci for the blog - writing (text) about textile art and providing a context for my work. A reminder of the saying: Without context, there is no meaning.

So there you are - the longest journey starts with a single step and all that. This is the first step in charting my creative progress, diversions, side steps, mis-steps and all, in blog form.