Friday, 30 December 2011

Tea bags and rust

A precious day with Ankie yesterday - and her WMBM - where 50 tea pot bags later (with the assistance of some Sulphate of Iron and Caustic Soda) we had rusted our way through old hospital bed sheet, organza, various weights of silk, pelon, interfacing, PFD cottons and anything else that would stay still long enough to be "dunked and dipped".

We started with 50 pot bags and two huge jugs of boiling water left to draw and cool while we caught up on all sorts of others things - like State of the Art Quilt 12 and Beneath the Southern Sky - both of which are due in another 5 weeks or so - then it was back to the tea bags.

The recipe and process we used can be found at  and the results are limited only by the order of dipping, length of time in the solutions and ... it's an endless supply of outcomes.

Nothing better than a heap of fabric drying on the line - in another week they'll be ready for washing. The interfacing came out like sheets of tanned parchment - so there's the foundation for journal pages - which will be made into a book of ... textile art samples. Thank you Ankie - a great day.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Silk, string or sisal?

It looks like string or sisal but it feels like magic - thick, twisted silk - one of my favourite Christmas presents arrived by post  - and I'm thinking about all those individual strands of beauty - all those lines of colour, twisted and intertwined - and all the possibilities ..... 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The year that is and was

With the holiday season upon us, I was searching for the "thing" or the "moment" that, for me, was 2011. I found so many. As always, it is the people in our lives who we love and love us, the passion and excitement that comes from following the path of dreams and that rarest of opportunities to share your life with someone who dances in the garden of your heart and does not trample the flowers. Wishing you all a safe and peace-filled holiday season and the very best for the coming year.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Landscape in Black and White

Today was a chance to experiment some more with black and white. First go to Cairns Sewing Centre and try to hire sewing machine for a few months - it's cheaper to buy one. Oh Dear.  Then it was time to plan out a number of transitions from black to white, or white to black. Also tried various combinations of black or white in the bobbin, and mixed up the black and/or white up top - changing the pattern gave different degrees of "grey" and transition.  Next it was weaving, cord making, ruching and couching the thread leftovers, plaiting different ratios of black and white plastic, fabric and film. Lastly, some dense zig-zag variations and a few black stars - nothing too deep and meaningful - just an interesting day of play.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

It's been ten years since ...

What haven't you done for ten years?  For me it was the movies. So last night I was invited out, in the intimate setting of three full cinemas of "chicks" and just before the movie started I thought  ..... OMG it's my bedtime. I did laugh, along with many hundred of others, through New Years Eve. I light hearted fun film that was not too long, not too short and I have no idea what Margaret and David would think of it. So while it's not a movie that will ever turn up on SBS2 it is a great distraction from everything else and loaded with so many famous people (I took the frequent ooohs and aaaaghs as a sign that I should have known who they were) including the enduring and beautiful Robert de Niro. I know there were only three actors in the entire production that I could not have given birth to and the New York scenery for the most part was simply .... big.  New Year's Eve is a great laugh and a fun night out. Thank you Fi, Mel, Jem, Carol, Bel, Caroline and Em.

Two of those famous people

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Greyscales and stitches as marks

Sketching out some ideas for black / white and greyscales I got to thinking about Mola and the "negative" space that's left with the removal of each layer - and wondered if my stitched piece was capable of bleeding? So I cut the discard pieces into strips then scrunched and folded and stitched them onto a base fabric (a hand towel from an airline and something that the laptop computer came wrapped it that has now become a nuisance I drag around with me). In the white spaces I started to use variations of black thread, white thread, double white, double black and black and white thread in single then double configuration and randomly stitched the exposed parts building up the layers of stitches to create a different kind of greyscale. Definitely not the world's most attractive expermiment but lots of fun.

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's all black and white (and orange)

Black and white fabrics were part of my sewing fix this week - all hand sewing which makes a nice change - and I couldn't resist this piece of orange in the discount bin. Six layers and some mola applique with a different take - variations in black and white rather than the beautiful and colourful fabrics used more traditionally. Some single thread chain stitch for added texture and  two television shows later ... a bit of fun! 

Thursday Island #2

The foreshore on Thursday Island has been redeveloped in recent years and now includes these beautiful turtle sculptures - at this time of year, the doldrums, they are heading to the water for a cool off. Woven hats and baskets are available for purchase at the cultural centre shop  as well as exquisite items made from recycling the ghost nets that trap and kill anything unfortunate enough to become entangled. I couldn't take any photos inside of course - be assured some of the best lino print and other art works in the world reside within its walls. I love this time of year in the Far North - the colour of the foliage - purple, reds and green and of course, the fishing!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pollen and petals

This week has been spent, sans Thursday Island, working through a 3D textile piece. Reverse Garbage (Brisbane) was the source of the furnishing fabrics - including some lush velvets and I painted some lutrador before burning holes in it with the brule burner soldering iron thing. Since lutrador ordinarily is applied beneath the lounge chair or mattress ensemble, for this piece it has been elevated in status and come out from "underneath". The stamens are beaded wire (thank you Ankie) and the pollen heads created from paper pulp before being painted with acrylic orange / yellow. Some additional beads were required to secure the pollen heads - then wire tendrils have been used to interconnect the stamens. I've been reading about the artists Wolfgang Laib (pollen and art), Anniken Amundsen (thinking about tendrils and toxins), Yoshiki Hishinuma (creating) new textiles using heat), and Cornelia Parker (the ability to suspend time).

Texture in the Torres

This week I've been privileged to return to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. I came across this post at the main jetty - evidence of time and salt on the metal capping. The second picture reminded me of an aerial view of the Nullabor Plan under a full moon - the salt pans appear to shimmer - but it was my room sentry at The Jardine. So many ideas for art quilts - the challenge is to distill "the one"  idea and refine it - how is it related to my current theme? Is this idea taking me off on a tangent? Is it worthy of further exploration at another time and if so, will I live long enough to return to it? All these considerations need to be resolved ... but not today!

Shimmering skin

My room sentry @ The Jardine

Looking north from the foreshore

St Andrew's Church
Commemorating the Spanish explorer Torres (1606)

The view to Prince of Wales Island
Return to the Australian mainland

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Thread sketching

Decided to start this glorious summer's day with reacquainting myself with my other best friend - who has been untouched for a few months while I've been working from the Far North. I found a sewing shop last week in Cairns that will let me go and sew all day for the price coffee and cake - and I'm tempted! Had a play with trying to "thread sketch" some drawings from the last few days and experimented on some furnishing fabric (far below) before hooping some PFD and achieving a much better result. I got a roll of PFD from Lisa Walton @ Dyed and Gone to Heaven - a beautiful 220 thread count. I used black thread up top, and Superior beige bottom line on the bobbin.  Practise. Practise. Practise. I think the shadowing on the far bottom attempt is better than the hooped PFD version. It's early stitches ... and am about to head over to Ankie's for a cherished catch up before the TLC (Tarome Ladies Club)  Christmas get-together this evening.  Each month the ladies of Tarome gather on the first Friday for chin wagging and the kind of fellowship I like. Each December however, the menfolk are included and we have an end-of-year Christmas Party at Myrtle's. The  Christmas lights start going up at Myrtle's in August and each year Brian creates another unique addition to the previous years' efforts. In 2009 it was the 15' high champagne bottle that tipped sparkling contents into a champagne glass, 2010 introduced moving reindeer to the front garden  .... who knows what magic he's created for 2011. Creative people are simply everywhere.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sketching and threads

Learning to draw and developing the habit of drawing is something I now get to practise a lot. In the confines of an airline seat I get about 5 hours a week to keep my elbows in tight and draw. It can be challenging for a left-hander - which is why I try to sit window seat, port side whenever possible. They say that the practice of practise makes perfect - and I know it to be true  - and luckily for me there would appear to be a few more flights in the goddess yet - the next step will be to thread sketch these as a further part of exploring the elements and principles of art in the context of textiles.