Sunday, May 31, 2009

Possible ATCs

I found a piece of fabric I made a couple of years ago in a workshop. I disliked the technique as it was presented because the final piece was literally as stiff as a board, but the surface is really interesting.

I decided that it might be useful for ATCs so I attacked it with the rotary cutter (and an old blade).

Now I have to decide if the bits need any further embellishment, what I am going to use for a backing and how I am going to attach that and how to finish the edges. I suspect it will be impossible to sew - will glue be the solution?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Melville Art Awards

Kevin and I went to the opening this evening. I am most interested in the textiles of course.

This year there were 21 entries in this section, and I liked most of them. For once I agreed with the judges on the winner and runners up. The winning entry was a diptych in shades of grey and black, heavily stitched and overlaid. I had never heard of the artist before and have forgotten her name now, but it was a stunning piece.

The runners up were a nuno felted shawl in bush colours by Lindy Frayne and a lovely handstitched piece by my friend, Iris. The City of Melville bought Iris' piece so she was pretty happy about that too.

I am planning to go back for another look. Openings are not the best time to look closely at art.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Group Project

A small group of Designing Women met again to work on our group piece for the WAFTA exhibition later this year. It is starting to come together. Here are some of the bits laid out on Alcira's floor.

We are meeting again in two weeks. All our bits need to be finished by then.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flying the flag

It's been really cold today, at least as cold is counted here in Perth.

I have poor circulation in my hands (it's called T...s syndrome, can't think of the name) and my fingers go waxy white, then blue, then a rosy red. Hence flying the flag.

I was on medication for a while, but it caused me to retain fluid. Of the two problems, I prefer coping with the fingers because it usually goes away after I get moving. Bit of a problem till it does though since I have little feeling in them and no fine motor skills.

They were particularly bad today so I spent time on the computer rather than with fibre. As a result we are going to Bali for a week next month - no cold fingers there. We like Sanur, but I couldn't book the hotel we usually stay at. I even made a phone call, but they were fully booked. So we are trying another place.

Once my fingers were better I did a bit of sorting out of fabric pieces I have made and stashed away. Designing Women are having an ATC swap in July so I need to get myself organised for that before we go away, as well as for a workshop I am supposed to teach in early July, not to mention my piece for the WAFTA exhibition . . .

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Here is a scan of the piece of fabric I stitched at the meeting of Innovative Stitches today. Jenny Abbott ran a workshop on fabric embellishment using stitching followed by paint, embossing powders and other bits, to be followed by heat gunning.

This piece is all stitching - I couldn't bear to add anything else. It will eventually become ATCs or postcards.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering 1969

I have finished my 1969 box for the Embroidery Guild's 40th anniversary and exhibition. I think I might have done a better job if I hadn't left it to the last minute. This is the outside.

These are the contents.

We are asked to write about what the box and/or its contents meant. This is my statement about 1969.

• I was pregnant for most of the year – our daughter Helen was born on November 28. This why I included the pregnant doll with a dress made from fabric that I once made into a dress for myself about this time. I have included the dress pattern that I used. I also included photos of the proud first time parents.

• I worked full-time as a High School teacher until August. One of the subjects I taught was Social Studies, so I did take some notice of what was happening in the world. I recall the frisson of awe I felt on hearing Neil Armstrong’s voice from the Moon. I made a little book of photos from Apollo 11. Because so much happened that year I covered my box with newspaper reports of notable happenings: from the sublime - moon landings and the first flight of the Concorde to the ridiculous – John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “bed-in” and Christo’s wrapping of Little Bay in Sydney.

• My husband and I established a fortnightly local newspaper that circulated in the Rockingham – Medina area (R-M News). We did everything related to its publishing: chased up information, wrote the news items, organised the advertising and did the literal “cut and paste” layout for the printer (NO computers – it was typed on an IBM golf ball typewriter, cut up and glued to master sheets), then collated each issue by hand. We did pay for students to deliver it, though. It lasted for 19 issues and would probably have continued for longer, but we had decided to go to teach in Papua New Guinea and we couldn’t find anyone to take it on. There are photocopies of the outside pages of the first and last issues.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I keep telling myself that I really should not leave it to the last moment before I complete artworks. I have 2 deadlines this week. The Melville Art Awards entries are due either tomorrow afternoon or Saturday morning; the 1969 boxes for Innovative Stitches are due Saturday morning.

I have been working on both today. The Melville piece is complete, but needs assembling. I decided late this afternoon that it needs a new mount, so I have to pick that up tomorrow morning. Assembly won't take long, so that deadline is easily achievable.

My 1969 box has suffered from procrastination. I made a box last year, but never developed it and now that I have some idea of the contents it is unsuitable. I made a new box today and covered it, but I still have a long way to go. I will be working hard tomorrow.

And here's a hint about stuff I am using.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WAFTA May meeting

Last night's WAFTA meeting speaker was Jane Donlin. She is currently doing a PhD in the arts at ECU, looking at the position of the crafts (and textile crafts in particular) in the context of a contemporary, technologically advanced society.

She showed an impressive quantity of work that she has done over the years, giving an insight of how her skills have developed and changed. I particularly liked some reverse applique pieces and an all white piece featuring darning on gauze.

She gave a Powerpoint presentation on a paper she gave at a recent conference, titled "Why Craft Matters". The paper argues that the marginalisation of craft is institutionally constructed. I found it fascinating and relevant and would like to read the paper in full some time.

There was another visitor: Sharyn Hall from Queensland who was here to help judge QuiltWest last week and also gave some workshops to WAQA members. She showed some of her quilts. I particularly liked HER reverse applique pieces, as well as her latest work which involves stitching on fabric that has been printed by dye sublimation. An Indian influenced piece with intense machine embroidery to develop texture was also note worthy.

After supper we had a small craft activity where Jane demonstrated netting and we all had a go, using thread we had brought along. Yet another technique that I had learned in New Guinea and largely forgotten.

I have made heaps of string from fabric strips in the last month. I can feel netting in the future!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The best laid plans

don't always turn eventuate. I had planned a full-on textile day.

Tomorrow is Husqvarna Club day and I wanted to make an apron - the project from last month. I also planned to get my panel organised for the meeting tomorrow afternoon of those Designing Women who are involved in its construction for the WAFTA exhibition. I was also going to check out some fabrics I have rust dyeing and remove the bits from the pomegranate pot.

I emptied the dye pot, checked the rusty bits and began a search for suitable fabric for the apron.

Then the doorbell rang. We had visitors. The worst of it was that they were actually invited - but both of us had forgotten! So the morning was basically lost, though the gathering was very pleasant. I even had some cake to offer, which is NOT the usual thing in this house.

I managed to make my apron in the afternoon and to partially organise my panel. I rang Juliet to offer her a lift to the meeting and discovered that I had the wrong date. It's next Tuesday. So the pressure is off for that.

But there are a couple of deadlines looming still. My entry for the Melville Art Award is due Friday afternoon. I need to finish a piece for the 40th Anniversary of the Embroiderer's Guild. This has to be handed in on Saturday. I have a dentist's appointment on Wednesday.

I keep telling myself I work best under pressure.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Day to Dye

It was a lovely sunny day so I got out the necessary bits and did some sun dyeing. This was the most successful piece.

Even the reverse is pretty good.

I decided the bit of fabric that I had sitting in the tray rusting away had probably had enough, so I pulled it out and washed and dried it. I am very pleased with it.

My last effort was to attempt to dye some bits of fabric using pomegranates from the garden. I suspect it will not be very successful. The liquor looks very pale and the fabrics don't seem to have picked up much colour. The splashes of raw juice that I got on my Tshirt as I split the fruits open are quite bright though, so I may try again, this time without cooking the fruits.

And the naysayers won on Saturday, damn it. No daylight saving next summer. Bummer!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Tonight was the opening of ShowOff 5 in which I have 3 pieces. I went with my sister Dorothy. Kevin stayed home with her husband Mike.

The exhibition is at the refurbished Memorial Hall in Hamilton Hill. The works are in two sections: the old building and the purpose built gallery. Both sections were roped off, so you couldn't do the usual look before the official opening. The foyer area was therefore very crowded, but the caterers did a great job in keeping the food and drink flowing. The finger food was the best and most varied I have ever seen. Well done, City of Cockburn.

After the official opening speech we got to look at the exhibits. I think the overall standard is better this year. Not a lot of textiles, but more than there was last year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Craft Fair

I went to the Stitches and Craft Fair today. I was helping to look after the Contemporary Quilt Group display in the morning and then, after a quick look at the quilts, I went shopping.

This book has just been reprinted and I bought it for the Designing Women library. I have owned it myself for years but I had forgotten what consummate craftmanship Annemieke displays. I hope it will inspire many of our members.

I am going back to the fair on Sunday with my sister Dorothy. I plan to have a longer look at the quilts. I don't plan to spend any more money - famous last words?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Revisiting the Classics

I borrowed this book from the library, but before I read it I felt I needed to reread Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

My copy of P and P was given to me for my 13th birthday. I remember I liked it at the time - in fact there is a double tick by the title. This was a stupid habit I had then. Similar to the cryptic marks in library books that some borrowers use so they don't keep borrowing the same books!

I don't think I had reread it since I was in my early 20s and had to study Jane Austen in a University unit on THE NOVEL, though I know I have seen several film and television versions.

I am glad I did read it again. I had forgotten just how much the Regency romance genre owes to Jane.

Colleen's version? Pure melodrama, but most enjoyable. She does write well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I want to use rusted fabric as the base layer for my section of the Designing Women piece for the WAFTA exhibition. I had a piece, but I didn't think it was rusted enough, so I wrapped up some washers in it and used a rusty tray to rust it further. This is the result.

While I quite like it, it seems a bit too structured for the piece. I started another bit this afternoon.

This is fabric just scrunched in the tray. I may add some strong tea in a day or so.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I am exhausted. I decided to clean out the pantry this morning. I have a large pantry and undisciplined shopping habits. I am embarrassed by how many herbs and spices were well past their use-by dates (how about 2001 for a packet of black cummin seeds?) and how many cans I have of coconut cream and tuna.

It took all day, but I feel so virtuous. Now to use some of what I found for dinner tonight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Helen treated us to a wonderful lunch at Sandrini in Fremantle. We had a table outside and were able to watch the passing parade. It's ages since we've been in Fremantle on a Sunday and we were struck by just how busy the South Terrace/Market Street/Collie Street triangle was.

I got a flower too. She made these with her pre-primary class. The flower itself is an outline of the child's hand on light card. I can't remember her own teachers coming up with such innovative ideas - I seem to remember jars covered in glitter and similar stuff, nothing so simple and restrained.

I love it. Thanks, Helen.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tomato Sauce

We bought a box of Roma tomatoes at the Stock Road Markets last Saturday for $5. By Tuesday 6 small bottles had been filled with sauce. This year's version seemed a bit more spicy than the last one I made a couple of years ago - same recipe though. I labelled these "May the fourth be with you". I loved the joke, even after getting it in three different emails

Wednesday I made a pot of tomato passata which I have frozen for winter use. The tomato box was now only half-full.

Thursday I made another big pot of sauce. Perhaps because the tomatoes were now a bit riper and needed less cooking to get the right colour and texture, it doesn't taste as spicy as the first. I got about 2 litres of sauce from 3 kilos of tomatoes. I don't think I will need to make tomato sauce again for another couple of years.

There were still about 30 tomatoes left after that. I was going to make more passata, but they are so juicy and flavoursome now that we have been scoffing them raw. Maybe tomorrow I will. I don't think we'll looking for tomatoes at the markets tomorrow morning.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Silk Paper

Today at Contemporary Quilt Group Lois demonstrated using silk fibres to make silk 'paper' aka known as silk fusion or silk felt. While I have done this technique before, other members had not, and I happily took along some of the bits I had in my cupboard.

This is the piece I made. The stringy bits are not properly bonded and I am sure it will look a lot better for some stitching, but I am pretty pleased with this. It was a half hour's effort and took only 20 minutes or so to dry, thanks to another fine hot day. Yes, the weather is lovely, but oh, I am longing for some rain.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Sculpture seems to be thriving in Perth, especially by the sea. We went to Rockingham today to see the Castaways exhibition on the foreshore. I really enjoyed it. The pieces were all made from recycled or repurposed materials.

These are some of my favourites:

From a distance the seagulls on the old jetty posts looked totally real.

I loved the texture of this wooden beam. It was almost completely eaten away by borers, so it was quite lacelike. One of the disadvantages of my camera is that it doesn't have a viewfinder, and the screen is totally useless in bright light, so photos are sometimes a bit hit and miss. It was miss here because the holes aren't obvious.

There were some clever ideas. This is a beach shelter made from recycled aluminium cans.

This is old computers, monitors and TV in a fishing net. It was titled "The Net".

I loved these grass trees made from bottle tops and other bits.

There were lots of other pieces I liked as well, but these last two were outstanding.

This piece by Graham Hay is made from discarded brochures and clay.

The plant pots were recycled metal. The plants are real.

If you are able to get down to Rockingham the exhibition is well worth a visit. But you need to get your skates on - it closes on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I have been playing with removing stuff today.

The first effort was a bit more bleaching of yesterday's piece, this time using a textured roller. I think that is enough colour removal. I am now thinking about adding some.

I have also started another piece of reverse applique. I think this one is looking good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have been playing with bleach and two new stamps that I have made on a piece of fabric I dyed with Procion some time ago. The first stamp is a lino cut.

The second stamp is foam mounted on template plastic with double sided carpet tape.

I bought a print roller at the Craft Fair the other weekend. I think I may try this with bleach on the same piece of fabric as well.

This is definitely a play piece - no project in mind as yet.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reverse Applique and WAFTA Naturally

I added some more leaves to the piece of reverse applique and decided to cut the top fabric as close as possible to the stitching. I am quite happy with the final result.

Now I want to translate it into a section of the piece Designing Women has decided to contribute to the exhibition WAFTA is holding in August. I am thinking about two pieces of silk I have tucked away. One is compost dyed, the other is rust dyed.

WAFTA (West Australian Fibre and Textile Association) is an umbrella group for West Australian textile groups. I believe it was originally founded as a group interested in both natural dyeing and weaving, but it has come a long way since. The FibresWest residential forum which is held in Bunbury every three years is fabulous, but the group has decided to try and extend public awareness of its existence and activities through an exhibition.

2009 is the Year of Natural Fibres and the exhibition will reflect this. All pieces entered in the WAFTA exhibition must be at least 80% natural fibre. In addition, the committee has decided to limit colours to muted shades as obtained from plant dyes. Each piece is to be 3.5 metres by .5 metres and will be suspended from the rafters of the exhibition building.

I think WAFTA expects mostly individual pieces, but the Designing Women Group has been affiliated with them for quite a few years, and we have decided to make a group entry. There are 15 DW members interested, so we now have to decide how to proceed.

At present the idea is to make individual panels to be joined to make up the required size. We are having a meeting tomorrow to discuss how to accomplish this. Everyone has to bring their own full scale design on paper (limited to 50cm square) inspired by Piney Lakes where we meet. We also have to bring samples of fabrics and threads we could use.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow to see what everyone has come up with.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Starting Reinventing

This is the beginning of my first attempt to reinvent a garment.

I was so inspired after Jody's talk the other week that I decided that this woollen jumper (an op shop purchase which I originally intended to felt in the washing machine) would be my first project. After all, if it is just too yucky I can always pull it to pieces and felt it!

I didn't take a picture before I attacked it with the scissors, but here it is now.

I promise I will keep posting progress pictures.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arty Crafty Day

I had never been to the art and craft markets at Kalamunda, held on the first Saturday of the month, though I had heard good reports and had admired things that friends had bought there.

Today I persuaded Kevin that we needed to look at them. It's miles from where we live and we had no idea where they were held so we drove around the town a while, noting that available parking seemed full and that SOMETHING had to be going on. We asked an elderly local lady. She couldn't help: "now I don't drive any more, I can't give directions and the markets are only on the first Saturday anyway". It didn't seem polite to tell her that it WAS the first Saturday, so we drove on. The next local (she had to be, she was walking her dog) we accosted also said "the markets are only on the first Saturday". However, she was quick to recover and gave good directions.

Next problem was parking, but we eventually found a spot under a tree - good thing because it was sunny and the temperature was in the high 20s.

The markets themselves were OK. We didn't buy much: just a jar of pickled onions. I'm not sorry we went, but I won't be marking the date on the calendar either.

Kevin had someone coming to pick up a refurbished computer so we went home for lunch. After they had gone we decided to go into Fremantle to visit a couple of art exhibitions. We went first to the Old George Gallery in East Fremantle. This was originally a pub, but was revamped as an community arts centre in the late 1980s. Since then little money has been spent on it by the local council, and the heritage building needs restoration. The council has apparently done a deal with a developer which will mean the loss to artists of the building and the gallery space in favour of a boutique hotel. The current exhibition is a fund raiser for the group that wishes to retain the building for local artists.

I sympathise with the artists who will no longer have studios, but there is no doubt that something needs to be done to revive the building. I am unhappy at the loss of yet another exhibition space (Designing Women held their exhibition there in 2006) and I wonder whether all avenues have been explored by the council. Certainly a quality bar or restaurant would add to the ambience.

We then went to the Fremantle Arts Centre. One of Kevin's ex-students, Rebecca Baumann, was exhibiting and we went to look at that and the other exhibitions. The exhibition by Simon Pericich was very confronting. The most disturbing part was the two walls festooned with "weapons made from household detritus and bling (comes with hooks)".

We needed a coffee after that. The cafe courtyard is a lovely spot and I found a great bit of wall texture right next to our table.

We finished the afternoon with a visit to the museum (in the same building). The Light and Sound exhibit is really excellent. And the Dockers won the Derby - yay for Fremantle!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm still reading

My friend Sheila loaned me a pile of Ian Rankin books after she read my post about having just discovered this writer. I plan to read them in the order they were published. So far I have only read the first (Knots and Crosses) which I really enjoyed.

And I have discovered another new to me writer. This book was featured as the West Australian newspaper's book of the month a while ago and I thought it sounded quite interesting, though I wasn't interested enough to buy it.

When I saw it in the library I was happy to add it to my selections. It is set in two times: the present and 1830s Boston and the two stories link together. Another book I have really enjoyed, and another author to add to my "Look out for . . " list.