Saturday, 23 May 2015

Open Studios of the Scenic Rim 2015

We're about to have two busy, fun days of Open Studios again - this weekend - along with other artists in the Boonah part of Scenic Rim Regional Council we're buddying up with Days for Girls - Hazel will be here most of the weekend and all proceeds from our tea, coffee and bikky sales will go to Days for Girls. Might also be some sausage in a blanket contributions too - it's windy and a bit chilly this morning so rug up and come on out. We're open Saturday and Sunday - plenty of parking too! Don't miss out on the textile art circuit - with Patena Moesker and Sally Hart at Bunjurgen and the BASi group at the Boonah Cultural Centre. A fabulous day in the Scenic Rim.

Shooting a perfectly good quilt

The past few months has been invested in my entry for the 2016 Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition next April. The brief requires consideration of the environment, the degradation of the planet and species, and asks artists to consider a restorative aspect - not able to make it all better but perhaps an acknowledgment that we must be part of  future-focused solutions. Part of that process was documented for me this week with an interview by Alice Gorman, a community correspondent with our local ABC radio - 612 Brisbane. Alice's expertise as a journalist created a relaxed environment that made the whole interview process fun. So why shoot a perfectly good quilt? Actually, the whole idea was confronting. I'm not a "gun" person and not comfortable with the idea or logic of willful destruction.  But how to represent degradation of species and damage to the environment linked to the activities of humankind? Shooting the quilt seemed a dramatic, cataclysmic and a totally appropriate response. I mean, what's to understand? In this context, it is an expression of power, damage and destruction and the almost instantaneous action of the shotgun pellets to do their thing sits comfortably with my understanding of our impact on the earth. I found a procion mx dye - oxblood red - which has helped show further layers of loss. Tomorrow begins the restorative process - the repair and nurturing that hand stitching brings. You can listen to the interview here. More from Alice and our interview (I think it's called the cutting floor ....) can be seen here. A big thanks to our friend, neighbour and local butcher who was able to assist with an unusual request.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Rythm and discipline of creating

My time in the studio is limited, fiercely guarded and akin to a religious experience. A cup of tea is brought to me before sun up and that's the fastest way I know to get the eyes to catch up with brain activity.  (It's not the ideal time to warm up with free motion quilting practice, but that's a topic for a different post). Dad found me this dental tool at his local flea market - it's such a useful piece of equipment for working corners and coaxing threads to their rightful place. I use tape to secure an edge threatening to fray itself to oblivion under the hectic pace of stitching, get lots of cardio opportunities moving between machine and design board while strength training comes from camera work and repositioning the tripod (strength training actually derived from lessons learned  and philosophy behind Jane Dunnewold's Artist Strength Training). It's now dark.  The rythm slows.  Another day tomorrow.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Textile Trails of the Scenic Rim - this May

If you love textiles then we've put together a Textile Trail of the Scenic Rim to coincide with Open Studios in May 2015. Artists include Patena Moesker, Bec Anderson, Erica Bates, Betty Bull, Margaret Smit, Wendy Trulson, Robyn Christoffel, Meredith Stone, the BASi group in Boonah, as well as Rebecca Staunton Coffey and me at Aliquilts Studios. Thanks to Scenic Rim Regional Council for ongoing support - full details of when and where to find us can be found at Open Studios - click on an area or weekend for dates, opening times and facilities.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

After the Jump - growing an online presence

Grace Bonney, of Design Sponge fame, hosted 100 radio programs about making the most of your arts business through sharing the experiences of working artists and artisans. My favourite episodes deal with generating content for your online presence - including how to use the different platforms of newsletters, print media, social media such as Facebook and the wordless imagery of Instagram or Pinterest. Plenty of ideas and practical "how to"s. For those of you who familiar with Grace and Design Sponge - well I wish you had shared that knowledge before now. For the rest of us, there's no time like the present. Grace, with her keen sense of knowing what to say and when - leads us through the" everything you need to know"; "might want to think about" and "need to start doing that now!" in each episode which lasts around 30 minutes. Success, failure, planning and persistence - these are, for me, the key themes. Great to download and listen to multiple times - the first for pure interest, the second because I usually miss something the first time around, and the third with a very specific purpose of identifying what I can use to improve my arts business and practice. Business changing. Life changing.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Life is beautiful ...

Rebecca Staunton Coffey and I recently spent four days at the Brisbane Stitches and Craft Show running workshops in hand stitching and using our Aliquilts fabrics. There were so many people - and we got to share our love of cloth and stitch with many of them. Our workshop classes ran three times a day and were full of interesting participants - some we knew and others we met for the first time. Not long after a totally different workshop had finished further along the aisle, a lady came and sat at one of our tables so she could finish stitching a small purse. We didn't mind at all - we share our love of textiles with everyone and our next workshop was still half an hour away. Rebecca was taking some more bookings and we hadn't done the final set up so please - sit at our table for a while.
The next workshop started like a charm - lots of questions and opportunities to learn from each other. We had two sets of tables - one for 8 participants and the other catering for about 7 more. I worked mostly in the small space  between them which, when workshops were not in progress, allowed people to walk through to the back wall and look at our quilts, cushion covers by Jane and other samples.  During workshops there was only room for one person to move in that narrow space - me.
So I'm mid-sentence showing the two groups a quilt where I'd used chain stitch and whipped running stitch to create texture when "BANG" -  a person who (to be fair)  may have simply overlooked her medication at breakfast, swoops into the space where I'm standing, bumps me out of the way and snatches the demonstration piece from my hands to examine the stitching.   I was too stunned to say anything and proceeded after a moment as if nothing had happened.
We were almost 40 minutes into the same class when a small voice  from one of the tables said  "Hmmm ... we're not making purses in this class, are we?"  Life is beautiful and all credit to the three ladies who never did get to that purse workshop.Welcome to the land of stress free hand stitching!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Making the most of each day ...

When writing "just a minute" for Down Under Textiles, I focused for a year on what can be achieved in small amounts of time. Just how many minutes each day are opportunities to progress something - perhaps in the rise and fall of hand stitching, completing a binding, sketching, embedding knots? Making a to do list to remind me of those things I absolutely must get done .... today.
Ruling out time spent at traffic lights, using moving walkways and stairs, there are likely to be 15 minutes in every day that can be claimed in the name of art. We decided to take back a few important hours at day's end - usually spent in front of a television set. Most evenings there's now a space between end of meal and the cryptic crossword to work on something substantial. However it's those 15 minute grabs, here and there, that enable me to get the most out of each week.  They are often unplanned - the trick is to be ready to respond - oh, and to check that must-do-to-do list!