Saturday, 2 July 2016

Back to basics - food and stitch

Time to make cheese and prepare bread for tomorrow. Most of the work involves waiting - a perfectly good reason to create, stitch and sew. To make the cheese take a good quality, clean cloth and place in a bowl. Add 5500g to 1kg (1lb - 2.2lb) of natural, pot-set yoghurt and a little chilli salt. I use mineral rock salt and flakes of chilli made from drying our excess in the wood-fired oven last season. Once dried and crushed the flakes are added to the salt. This time I'm also adding dill (dried, about half a teaspoon). Mix gently then hang the cloth to drain over the bowl for 6-8 hours or overnight. After about 4 hours or so I take the cloth down, cut the cheese mix through the centre to turn the dry sides inwards, and the wetter middle to the outer and re-hang. The whey can be used in cooking or (in my view at least) collected and frozen over several cheese making days then defrosted and used to dip cotton fabric in readiness for eco-dyeing. Simply dip, drain and hang to dry. Back to the cheese ...  it can be used like labna. We roll small balls in chopped herbs, drizzle with olive oil and store in the refrigerator. They are said to last up to two weeks like this ... but I wouldn't know about that.

Creative Strength Training - Summer Camp

In addition to Jane Dunnewold's latest offering - Creative Strength Training - Jane and daughter Zenna are offering a Creative Strength Training Summer Camp - all online through a CST Summer Camp Facebook page. Each week a prompt is set - and participants post (or keep to themselves) a response to the prompt. Week 1 - was sticks; Week 2 - involves some writing and a poem - all offered by Jane. 

Week 2 is a response to words found in a page in a dictionary or newspaper  - from which a poem is written. My words include: portmanteau, facetious, transistor, motel, convenience, compass, isolated and string.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Inspiration at the Tweed Gallery

Visited theTweed Gallery which houses much of  Margaret Olley's home, exactly as it was when she passed her mortal coil. An exercise in creative thinking and developing a response to that environment followed, with 5 hours or so of observation and  discussion. Lots of refreshments at the Gallery Cafe too. I was fascinated by the curtain fabric, the patterns on rugs, cushions and chairs.  At some point the experience became sensory overload - thankfully images provide the opportunity to revisit the space. A wonderful day with my tribe.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Block head

Found myself drawn to The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt series as part of discussions with Rebecca Staunton Coffey about our hand dyed and printed fabrics. Each year I commit to one traditional, pieced quilt. This year, TFWQS 1920 and 1930 versions offered 210 blocks between them. I wanted to use our fabric range in a new way.  I've chosen the first few blocks based on either 4-patch or 9-patch appeal and until I'm warmed up, blocks that can be cut using a rotary cutter and easily pieced on the machine.  Drawing up the template is easy and the endless possibilities for dark /light combinations and pattern orientation are worthy of consideration prior to cutting.

Drafting on paper helps record the various shapes and sizes and work out the best method for construction.  It is also worth considering the fabric design as it presents itself on individual squares and triangles. The small square below needed to be cut into a half square triangle. Before cutting, I looked at  how I could make the most of the existing pattern / marks on the two resultant pieces. Sometimes it makes a difference and others not. In this case, using the opposite diagonals would have resulted in a lot of pattern on one half triangle, with almost nothing to show on the other. Really enjoying this year's challenge.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition - one week to go!

Detail of my entry to the Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition as part of the Broadstrokes group of artists. It has been a privilege to be part of this talented group, many of whom are en route to Tainen, Taiwan for the exhibition opening next week. This year's theme required artists to consider loss of species (represented by the log cabin blocks of varying sizes) shot (quite literally) by my neighbour and butcher Kane. You can see the peppering as well as the rather large hole after being blasted by a 12 gauge.  I felt it more than demonstrated the point that the fastest loss of species from the planet is related to the activity of humans. The restorative element of the brief was achieved by suturing the wounds - a healing and hopeful aspect.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Collage workshop fun

A great four days running mini workshops in collage and stitch at the Brisbane Stitches and Craft Show.  Using our hand dyed and printed fabrics as a base, we created cords, motifs, thread skeins and paper prints for exercises in design, colour, contrast and scale - sharing laughter and creative fun!  Thanks everyone!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Lichen dye

Discovered this fungus / lichen at the base of some old stumps we are digging out. Now brewing in a sunny spot of the studio for a few weeks, along with another jar of avocado skins  - for thread dyeing to be used on my soul stitch project. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sunday sundye

Glorious sunshine and a perfect day to use sun dyes.  Today is basic - wet cloth, paint like there's no one watching with a foam brush in each hand and musical accompaniment of your choosing. Scatter found objects over the wet surface. Wait until the cloth is dry then remove objects - heat set and wash as per instructions.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Monoprints - wrapped up

Getting into the rythm of printmaking  - a quick exercise is to get out the student acrylics and the gel or glass plate and play on a roll of brown paper. Several metres later and there are heaps of ideas popping around  - crumple and recrumple to change the structure of the paper, fuse to a felt background and stitch, cut out pieces at random and applique or fuse to other pieces, cut into strips then weave before fusing to another background and stitch. Overprint. If you dont like a section - overprint with another design. If nothing else, unique wrapping paper for 2016.

Making cord - a texture treat

Fabric trimmings make great cord - roll one length as tight as possible without it buckling and hand to a trusty assistant to hold while a second piece is similarly rolled. Place the two pieces together,  ends together and without either piece unravelling, before rolling them together in the opposite direction. Roll tightly then let the newly made cord relax.  Knot each end. Uses include: couching and adding texture,  creating shapes such as spirals, use zigzag stitch to couch rows of cord to a background and frame / mount  on a canvas, edge pages of a stitched journal, join to make length suitable for crochet or knotted shapes .... endless possibilities for repurposing what would have otherwise been rubbish. Short pieces?  Tie together to make lengths suitable for rolling. Organic. Simple. Beautiful.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Pat's hexagons

This past few days, perhaps daze, have been spent on retreat with a group of women I can't contemplate  life without.  When the laughter and storytelling alternate with the whir of sewing machines, the rythm of hand stitching, adult beverages interspersed with home cooked delights ... all is righted in my world.  
I'm making progress on the inherited hexagons. Slowly taking shape. The needle dipping and rising while aspects of Pat's life are revealed one backing paper at a time. She was much loved. A wife, mother, aunt, friend  of many. Busy. Thrifty.  Christian. Brave. Held close in the prayers and thoughts of so many.  This past few days have been spent trying to do justice to Pat's final project -   and finding great peace in the rythm of stitch. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Recycled plastic and journalling

Plastic store bags and wrappings can be reused to add texture and interest to journal pages. Once fused between sheets of non stick baking paper, cut to shape, then stitch using the pogo or darning foot - feed dogs down and zero foot pressure.

Multi purposing at home

Containers with lids and handles make great dye pots, while a large square of  lint free cotton from Hawaii makes a wonderful cheese draining material. The collected whey is protein rich and frozen until a litre or two can be defrosted and used to soak cotton pfd fabrics. They are then dried thoroughly (no rinsing) and stored until an eco dyeing day using materials gathered from around the studio. And the cheese? Enjoyed with an adult beverage and toasted pita bread sometime later this evening.