Saturday, November 29, 2008

In a whorl

whorl |(h)wôrl| noun a coil or ring, in particular
• Zoology each of the turns or convolutions in the shell of a gastropod or ammonoid mollusk.
• Botany a set of leaves, flowers, or branches springing from the stem at the same level and encircling it.
• Botany (in a flower) each of the sets of organs, esp. the petals and sepals, arranged concentrically around the receptacle.
• a complete circle in a fingerprint.

• chiefly historical: a small wheel or pulley in a spinning wheel, spinning machine, or spindle.

verb [ intrans. ] poetic/literary
spiral or move in a twisted and convoluted fashion : the dances are kinetic kaleidoscopes where steps whorl into wildness.
whorled adjective
ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting a small flywheel): apparently a variant of whirl , influenced by Old English wharve [whorl of a spindle.]

whorl - noun. Elegant whorls of wrought iron loop, coil, hoop, ring, curl, twirl, twist, spiral, helix, arabesque.

I have a fixation on whorls, circles and spirals at the moment. It may have started with the photo I took of paperbark at Piney Lakes early in the year.

It was encouraged by an embellisher sample: purple felt with different shades of blue organza punched into it, then spirals of wool fibre punched into the reverse. A challenge at Innovative Stitches for us to use buttonhole stitch added to the obssession as I stitched onto the spirals.

Then I started making rings, buttonholing onto various plastic bits I have saved. I am also planning to use the Flower Stitcher to stitch a heap more as well.

What will come of this? I don't know yet, but everywhere I look I see whorls. Must do something with this rust dyed piece as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Over the moon

I have sold two more pieces that were in the Designing Women exhibition.

It's not the money that thrills me (though that's nice ) - it's that someone likes what I have made enough to pay for the right to own and display it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas is coming

and I have a heap of textile things to make and do. Almost all the groups I belong to exchange a gift at the last meeting of the year. So this is my list:

Secret Drawer (friendship sewing group - we have been meeting for more than 20 years). Anything that isn't a dust catcher - no ornaments. Food (especially chocolate) and drink OK. We used to exchange a Xmas block, but now we have all received enough for a quilt we have let that lapse. Got to find something useful for less than $10. Doesn't need to be related to textiles.

Designing Women. In the past it has been a Xmas ornament - this year it has morphed into a Xmas angel. We have been making Wild Women/Feral Females during the year so I expect a wide range of pieces. I can't decide between traditional (3-D lace) or an over the top angel with free motion embroidered wings for mine. I have downloaded the design for the former and constructed the body for the latter.

Contemporary Quilt Group. We had to hand over a bag of goodies and get one in return. I have lucked out - my bag contains Japanese silk scraps. I know what I'm going to make - just need to do it.

Husqvarna Club. Two pieces due. The challenge is to make a Christmas bag from one of their promotional shopping bags. I have basically finished this. The embroidery took a LONG time. I think I have the swap gift organised as well.

Thank goodness the last meeting of Innovative Stitches was in November (last Saturday). That's just a bit too early for a Xmas swap.

And both Helen and Kevin have birthdays this week :(

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The End

We pulled down the exhibition this afternoon.

What took two days to set up took less than two hours to disassemble. Our treasurer was on hand to disburse payment to those who had sold items. Juliet was the outright winner here. She had made six hats with matching scarves and sold all but one hat. In addition she sold a wonderful felted and stitched framed piece.

I sold a bag and a wrap. Other people also sold pieces, so if an exhibition is gauged by its sales this was a successful one. And the comments in the visitors' book are almost uniformly positive.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An unexpected gift

Isn't this lovely? It was a great idea to include some of the bits used to make it.

Linda sent it to me as thanks for driving her back from Bunbury after Fibres West. I really didn't expect anything because I was glad for the company - I would have had to drive alone otherwise.

It was wrapped in lovely handprinted paper and accompanied by a silk scarf blank. I now need to put some of the techniques I learned in Jane's class to work. Sneaky bit of motivation there. Thanks, Linda.

I again spent the afternoon gallery sitting. It is interesting to watch people's reactions. They vary from the quick scan of the entire galley in order to identify a couple of pieces for a brief examination to the absorbed study of almost every item on display.

Almost all the comments have been positive which is very pleasing. And the red dots are still coming.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Post 401

Funny how the milestones pass unobserved. I also had my 10,000th visitor last week.

Kevin is trying to get the family blog noticed (it is really his blog now. I rarely comment any more, but as administrator I have to deal with the c*** comments that seem to appear from time to time). Sometimes the tags he puts on messages don't seem to me to match up with the post, but it seems to be paying off. Sunbeam motorcycles, Carter's Little Liver Pills and Miniature Pomegranates are copping lots of hits.

I spent this afternoon gallery sitting. Most of the visitors were from the spinners' group that meets at Atwell House every Tuesday. Some of the comments made were interesting - it seems to be difficult to reconcile art vs craft. The pieces in the exhibition are textiles, so it must be craft BUT some of them are presented (framed) as if they were paintings and they and others are obviously decorative rather than functional objects. ? ? ?

One of the objectives of our group is to raise the profile of textile art in WA. I think this exhibition may have made a small step in this direction.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dyeing wool

I was given a pile of Earth Palette wool dyes (thanks, Teena) some time ago and finally decided to try them out. The dyes are in a granulated format and have to be mixed with hot water. You then soak the wool (fleece, yarn or fabric) in the dye mix, wrap in plastic for 24 hours or until the liquor you squeeze out of the dyed matter runs clear. Easy.

On Wednesday I mixed up yellow, blue and brilliant red and tried the dyes on some commercial yarns which I wound into skeins. One yarn was pure wool, the other (the one with bobbles) was an unknown fibre or fibre mix. I unwrapped them this morning.

I wanted a space dyed effect so did one batch with blue and red, and one with blue and yellow. I think the latter is more successful. I am not happy with the red - I think it is too pink.

I also think these dyes are not really suitable for spacedyeing. You have to squeeze the dye into the yarn. If you don't, it just sits on top, unlike Procion dyes which move into the material to be dyed. However, if you want to dye just one colour, I think they would work well, and they are certainly very easy to use.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Exhibition Opening

The Official Opening was supposed to be at 7.00 pm yesterday. There was hardly any one there then, perhaps because it was still broad daylight. Then people started to arrive and eventually there was a reasonable audience for Hannah's opening remarks.

There were lots of favourable comments and quite a few items are now bearing red stickers. Very satisfying!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A day out in the city

We went to Perth by train from Cockburn Central. The trip itself is inexpensive (especially for seniors), smooth, fast and effortless. Finding parking is not. We spent quite a long time driving around both parking areas to no avail before deciding to park at the Gateways Shopping Centre. We walked to the station though we could have caught the bus. Maybe next time.

One of the reasons for the trip was to see the open air photographic exhibition "The World from Above" which is mounted between the Art Gallery and the Museum. Even though I have seen many of them before, the images are breathtaking. Each is accompanied by text commenting upon how mankind is affecting the environment. While these facts and figures are quite sobering, their continuous repetition loses its impact and we both became less and less interested in reading the captions. It is an interesting question to consider: when does repetition of a fact or series of facts lose its effectiveness and cause the auditor to "switch off" or (worse) become desensitised?

We also intended to see an exhibition of photographs relating to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea at the Museum, but missed it by a day. We took a wander through the part of the Museum which once housed the State Library. The mezzanine floors are now basically file storage, but the old jarrah bookcases remain, and the ceiling has been restored.

So have the cast iron spiral staircases that link the levels. You are not allowed to climb them though.

Outside the PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) building there was a team working on a sand sculpture. I find this technique fascinating.

We had considered attending the Wesfarmers AGM, but decided we had had enough and went home. From reports in the media, maybe we should have. It could have been entertaining.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Day

The exhibition will not be officially opened until Friday evening, but the doors opened this morning.

We had to attach all the labels, and that was when various errors became apparent. I had to print some more labels - I had completely omitted one artist - and we discovered that two items had not been included in the catalogue. Too late to reprint that - we just added the items by hand.

The gallery runs a monthly lunch with a slide show or demonstration. Designing Women were the featured speakers this month, so Juliet and I did a duet, speaking first about the history of DW and then taking the group, divided in two, around the gallery to talk about the exhibits and the techniques used. It was very well received, and we had a number of sales.

Here are some of the pieces I have on display.

My wrap is on the left. It is called Spice Market and is merino roving nuno felted on printed silk chiffon.

This bag is called Scarlet Feathers and has a trim of dyed feathers. The bag itself is velveteen with a red brocade lining.

I made this piece some time ago. The background has organza and wool fibres punched into felt with the embellishing machine. The butterflies were digitised and stitched onto organza sandwiched with Angelina fibres and cut out with a soldering iron.

There was some discussion on Monday about the need for more hanging items. I came back from the gallery, fossicked in my stash of UFOs, found this and also found a frame that it fitted.
So, another item. I have called this Into the Blue.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Exhibitions are hard work

An art exhibition does not appear fully developed out of nowhere like Athena from the head of Zeus. The exhibition sub-committee has been working very hard for months and today was the crunch.

There was an empty gallery and there were piles of art works. Somehow the two needed to be combined. The photos are of Helen (exhibition convenor) contemplating. They were taken about 11am.

By 5pm the walls were full and the tables displayed a range of interesting pieces. In the meantime the sign painter had come and gone as had the photographer from the local newspaper.

My contribution? I was the "gofer". I went out and bought coffee, some conduit for hanging scarves and 20 metres of black fabric which Loraine and I converted into skirts for the tables.

I will take more photos tomorrow. Though everything is now in place, there is still quite a bit of tweaking to be done. It is fortunate that we have had two days to hang the exhibition - last time the poor committee had only a day and had to work late into the night to finish.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whorl 2

It was very difficult to photograph this piece. Naturally the glass is not non-reflective, so reflections were a problem. The other thing is that you need to be really close to get the 3D effect. I hope it gets a good position in the Designing Women exhibition - if it is accepted.

Friday, November 7, 2008


After thinking about this project for months, I got down to work and finished it in a frenzy. I am very happy with it.

This is the starting point - a photo of the bark on a paperbark (Melaleuca) at Piney Lakes. Piney Lakes is the venue for Designing Women meetings and I wrote about the meeting in May where we ventured further than our meeting room and took lots of photos.

I printed the photograph on cotton and on silk organza. I layered the cotton print with lightweight fusible Pellon and silk and freemotion stitched, using a subtle variegated thread (Victory Vanilla Beans) and a deeper grey.

I bought the shadow box frame at Thingz. It needed some disassembling and reassembling and there was a disaster with hot glue, but eventually it all came together.

The embroidered cotton is the base layer, separated with a spacer from the organza. I will try for a photo tomorrow - by the time it was assembled the sun had set.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Silk Scarf

The scarf was less straight forward than I had expected. The end bags were OK, but I had problems with the Spanish Hemstitch. The last time I used it, I was thrilled with the results. Yesterday I went through bout after bout of unpicking. Eventually I gave up and programmed little buttons so I could join the two parts Kayla Kennington style.
This is the final result.

I also finished another scarf. I had knitted this in various black and white yarns on a circular needle. Today I joined the ends to make a Moebius strip. This type of scarf is so easy to wear, since it sits nicely and you never need to battle with wayward ends.

A friend and I went to the opening of a quilt exhibition this evening. The quilts are made by a small group affiliated with an Anglican church in Melville and another friend is a leading light in this group. There were some very nice quilts on display, but I was most intrigued by this fringed edging.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


My name is Joan and I am a bookaholic.

I am still working through Maggie Grey's "From Image to Stitch" - so many ideas and things to try.

I want Gloria Hansen's new book as well, but I think I will wait a week or two until the Aussie dollar recovers a bit - it's getting better, but I doubt it will get back to the 90c US high of a couple of months ago.

In the meantime I have two new books sent to me by Dale. Have flipped through Julie's, haven't opened Maggie's.

Oops - more things to try.

And if I had unlimited funds I might just be tempted by a couple of these books. Just remember that the AUD is only worth 40c of the GBPound if you are thinking of making a bid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Productive Day

Yesterday I tidied up the sewing room and put away lots of stuff. Today I have spent the day playing with my 4D software and sewing. Nothing very complicated. I made two foundation pieced Christmas postcards, using a design supplied by Pam at Bestway. I designed the label and stitched it out as the back. I will probably add some crystals to the fronts.

When I was tidying up I found some silk I had dyed. One piece is organza, the other is some kind of slub. The dye has taken up differently on each fabric. The organza is very strong colours, while the slub is more muted.

I have decided to make a scarf using both fabrics. The organza will be the body of the scarf. I have finished the hemming of that. The slub will be made into bagged rectangles to be the end pieces. They will be joined to the organza with Spanish Hemstitching (aka faggotting). I will post a picture when finished.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Swapmeet Find

Quite often on a Sunday morning, especially if it is a lovely day like today, we go to Swapmeet. These are known in other places as Boot Sales or Trash and Treasure and are usually held in the carpark of a shopping centre. There are two quite close to us, both run by the Rotary Club of Booragoon; one at Melville, the other at Kardinya.

We went to the Kardinya one today. Nothing of interest - even the books failed to engage my attention. Then I saw it - a piece of tapa about a metre long and 30 cm wide. When we lived at Popondetta in the Northern (now Oro) District of Papua in the early 70's I used to buy it from the women who made it for the girls at the Vocational Centre to make into bags and hats for sale to tourists. I still have quite a few pieces.

The seller said she thought it came from Fiji. No, said I, it's from Papua New Guinea. She did know that it was made from bark, but had not known the name tapa. It is a good piece; no holes in the cloth and well painted. I think it is more recent than the pieces I have, but it still used the traditional techniques.

The seller had been given it some years before and had intended to make it into a book cover. I am so glad that there are other people who don't convert their ideas into projects, and even more glad that some of them take their bits to Swapmeet.