Sunday, 15 November 2015

Still threads ...

I've been sorting through samples of rusted and tannin dyed fabrics, one or two over-dyed in the indigo vat; others folded, squeezed and dipped in different ways and combinations of iron, tannin and rust. Their earthiness is reassuring. The differences in hue and tone ensure the beauty of each piece is not lost - each remains distinct from its neighbour. Some have areas of light and dark; some are stained; each has different strengths, textures and flaws while others appear amorphous. In spite of and perhaps because of these attributes, the group is better and stronger than the single samples of cloth, even when an element at first appears incongruous. In spite of and perhaps because of these differences,  removal or exclusion of a piece that doesn't fit neatly into the prevailing colour scheme risks a collection that is vacuous, indifferently beige and uninformed. Vive la diffĂ©rence.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Back from where ever

Arrived back in blogland after a break of some 5 months. Actually I was curious to see if anyone noticed. I questioned how many people still use blogs as a primary source of information over, say, instagram or Facebook or Twitter or YouTube ... or insert name of whatever is coming next.  Also, it's easy for life to get in the way.  It's easy to release the vigilance and commitment required to keep providing words that are of interest to others. I find it challenging to be in the moment and stay long enough to find meaning - not getting caught up in the paraphernalia of smart this-and-that,  pick me, pick me. So I  stopped taking so many photos that I forgot to pause and drink in the view simply because I  could. I took a break from a brief romance with instagram to taste an idea. Finally, I got to Adelaide  last week and be with my South Australian tribe. Surrounded myself with givers and lifters - of quilts, stitching and ideas.  Bathed in the smiles and laughter of dear friends and generous spirits. Somewhere in the midst of day 3, someone asked what had happened to my blog.  Nothing, I smiled.  Absolutely nothing.  And that's where I needed to be so I could come back. And it feels great.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Textile works by Eko Mugroho

On a recent visit to the Queensland Art Gallery I came across the works of Eko Mugroho, an Indonesian textile artist and machine embroiderer. I like the subversive political elements of his works, his use of colour and stitch and how he creates texture. Great use of contrast and I find it interesting to see how visual balance has been achieved in each piece. His cartoon like speech bubbles deliver a shared irreverence for the political elite. Eko's use of rayon thread gives each piece a sheen and always invites closer inspection. A visual treat around yet another corner of another gallery in the QAG ...

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Meaning and context on paper

Brown paper bag - it's common and everyday and possibly overlooked once the objects it carries have been consumed.  So instead of heading into the bin or perhaps a compost site  ... I'm turning this little packet into fabric.
From carrier and protector of mushrooms - breaking down the fibres through scrunching, folding, unfolding and repeat.  It now has a velvety quality when held  .... just like the mushrooms before they too were transformed.   And now for the yum part  ...

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Layers of meaning - inspired by Martinitoren, Groningen

One of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands is Groningen, and Martinitoren is a most beautiful church. Inspired by a photograph of Martinitoren from the early part of last century, I've made a series of fabric prints referencing the church's beautiful architecture, the patterns created by the paved walkways and street entrances (similar to that adjacent to present day 2 Sint Walburgstraat or 5 Martinikerkhof) and the intricate patterns of Groningen's streets.  I have created two separate linocuts of  Martinitoren - a large one very detailed and intricate, the other smaller and less detailed - both provide the opportunity for changes in scale when printed onto our hand dyed fabrics. The stonework over which life has passed since the 1600s is represented by my hand cut spiral linocut and finally, excerpts from an unusual woodblock provide convey a bird's eye perspective of Groningen's streets. I am yet to find the exact location of the photograph - I suspect somewhere near the marketplace but that's a post for another time. Meanwhile, Groningen's fresh and youthful presence continues to feature in our Aliquilts hand dyed and printed fabrics.

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!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Shimmering at Brisbane Stitches and Craft Fair

I decided to make a second quilt using  Jenny Bowker's Shimmering Quilts pattern, this time using our Aliquilts hand printed art fabrics. This little quilt measures 33 inches square and will be on display at the Brisbane Stitches and Craft Fair between 19-22 March.  Can't wait!!!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Shimmer ...

I recently had reason to purchase a quilt pattern - only the second time I've been seduced (in that oh-my-the-possibilities- fabric sense) and Jenny Bowker's Shimmer pattern lived up to its title. Jenny has also set up a page where all the Shimmer-ers can congregate and share images, interact with Jenny and generally get inspired - click on the link above. I love the way we can interact across the miles ... and I got to use some of my most precious commercial fabrics - including a few from Judith Baker Montano.
I'm really glad my one traditional quilt a year for 2015 is ... Shimmer!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Living (loving) linen

Linen and I don't go together in that classic dress sense - maybe because I travel a lot to get anywhere I always end up looking crumpled - so linen invariably is something I love to stitch rather than wear ... this is a section of my latest work, using layered Aliquilts hand printed art fabric, hand stitched and embroidered with silk threads.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Clearing out and creative space

I am  not good at the de-clutter thing - although I greatly benefit from the creative space left after the event. The WMBM is ready to assist with the disposal of excess "stuff" .... and in between the exertion of 5+ bags of "I've only got 30 years left so what was that about?" I've managed to do a little stitching .... thanks to Jenny Bowker's Shimmering Quilt pattern   - a great exercise in colour and contrast and the ability to use what I had ... thank you Jenny B.

Monday, 19 January 2015

This is a quilt ...

 I am making an unusual quilt and exploring  SAQA's (Studio Art Quilt Associates) definition of  a quilt as "a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure." And so, the plaiting of the fabrics creates one type of layer, the joining of the new to the existing creates a series of layers ... recording the source of each different fabric creates layers in my journal - of friendships and memories and of experiences shared and intertwined ...this is a quilt.

Congratulations SAQA Star Recruiters!

Congratulations to the three Star Recruiters for SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) who chose a pack of Aliquilts hand printed art fabrics as their reward for recruiting two or more members during the December 2014 quarter. Requests were for "purples and greens", "greens" and a  "Tarome sunset pack". If you've been thinking about joining SAQA you can join online and receive a 10% discount on membership if you use the code AGT in the section immediately prior to making your payment. You'll be in terrific art quilt company!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Variety is the spice of (stitched) life ...

Postcards are a great way to use up smaller, unfinished pieces or stuff from the "I'll get to that later" but never do pile. I covered a piece of fusible webbing with acrylic paints - in bushfire colours - and bonded this to white acrylic felt. This was then cut into a number of postcard sized shapes - before I experimented with hand and machine stitching. The first card is stitched by hand, including the blanket stitched finish.
Some variations using machine stitching followed - including a free motion echo quilting around a basic shape or design (leaf) and a loose zig zag edge to finish ....

Another variation using straight lines of stitch - different spacing creates different perspectives - and for the central, densely stitched area I used a recalcitrant  metallic thread on the bobbin and stitched "upside down" with the right side of the postcard facing down, and using a dark thread on the reverse as a guide ...

Some free motion doodling or sketching - this time rock shapes as another way to create variety and texture while making the stitch as much of a focus as the background on which it is sewn.
The original layer of acrylic and felt was stamped with one of my very first lino cuts - an abstract leaf shape which has now been stitched, free motion, creating veins and lines ... the postcard was then edged with a dense zig zag (satin stitch) while the stitch length was varied - wide and narrow - for the four sides - this creates a less formal frame.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Scraps, shirtfronts and 2015

The past few weeks have been spent creating functional items - using beautiful linen and batiks to make some gorgeous shirts for work, then incorporating the scraps and offcuts into a new project  - a really BIG project. I've had lots of time to plan, think, rethink, plan and experiment - my idea of a perfect holiday. In between exploring ideas, I made a few more shirts and contemplated the different materials - linen, silk, cotton, velvet, woven, printed .....
Here's to your creative 2015 and making time to experiment, undertake artistic challenges or just enjoy being where you are. Life is good.