Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Setting up Holy Stitches

I have been helping to set up the Holy Stitches exhibition at the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria.

It has taken a couple of days to do the physical set-up and many hours of work beforehand, choosing the items, making up the catalogue, etc. Fortunately, I have only really been involved in the physical set-up, enough work for me.

There were so many items to choose from. It is not my sort of embroidery but the fineness of the works is amazing, as is the impressive gold work. I don't have to be a practitioner of the techniques to be inspired by the work.

Here are some pictures of the days of setting up.

Lots to choose from!

Sorting it into colour areas.

Getting there
The next log of images are from today - it took all day again, hence the need to take pictures when it was darker.

I seem to have focussed on lots of red pieces, there are plenty of other ecclesiastical colours.

I  am looking forward to the actual exhibition and hope we have lots of visitors.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


May is a wonderful month here in Melbourne. The nights are getting cooler and you can tell winter is approaching but the days are usually magnificent.
The grass is green and things are looking lush! More like spring than the typical autumn images that come to mind. But I suppose we think of the autumn colours that are really more typical of the northern hemisphere and now I am seeing the wonderful greens of autumn in Melbourne.

You do tend to get the wonderful shadows in autumn that are not so obvious in summer, the sun being in a different part of the sky. (And summer doesn't have much green grass anyway, see the image below.)

I took Penny to Warrningal Park recently and was quite amazed to see a tree that looked to have been dying, covered in leaves.

Here it is in December 2014.

That bare white trunk and sawn up branches didn't look very hopeful. I did wonder why they hadn't just chopped it all down. 
Now I know why!

The grass is green and the bare trunk is covered in leaves! It seems that those council arborists do know what they are doing. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Just in Time

I think it is true, the closer an event is to home, the slower you are to go and see it.
I finally got to Hatch today to see Turbulence. It is by local artists, centred around the idea of water conservation and environmental awareness.

There was a LOT of plastic there. The message was clearly about all the plastic we use, the 'stuff' we buy and then just throw away, and the damage this does to the waterways.

It was great to see the two murals done at the KidsArtyFartyFest earlier this year. It seemed to be a very locally based exhibition.

One of the special bits was seeing some of the art works about the local animals and birds, and how they relate to the brochure you can get about the indigenous wildlife in Banyule.

It closes tomorrow, so I had to make a special effort to get there, well worth the effort though.

Congratulations to all the artists.

There were some interesting workshops around the exhibition also but, having left my visit till the second last day, I have missed out on them.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Inspired by ... Degas

This month we are supposed to be inspired by Degas.
Some of the comments about our works, at the meeting of the machine embroidery group, at the EGV, have been that we are being a bit too literal with our images.

Therefore, I decided to try something different. I noticed that Degas did quite a few sketches of ballerinas, some of them life drawings.
I remembered that we had done a life drawing semester in our Textile and Design course. After some rummaging, I found my folder (the benefit of never throwing anything out!).

As the piece is to be A5 and my drawings were A1, I took photos of a few that I thought might do.
Then I printed them out as A5 images and left them sitting, so I could let it sink into my subconscious and let it do the deciding for me - of which one to work on.

As one of them was blue, and as I thought that was the one I was going to do, I have been thinking about using my blue fabrics for a couple of weeks.

I got out my blue scraps, some of them very small. Perfect for an A5 piece, I thought. (I was right!)

I traced my drawing onto the fabric, using a water soluble (blue) pen. It turned out that I didn't use the blue one after all. I can't remember actually thinking much about it, I just started on another one. I think the lines were easier to see, rather than the blocks of colour in the blue drawing.

Then I laid out tiny pieces of blue fabric. I didn't cut much, just used the pieces that were there.

After that, I put the image beside the sewing machine and tried to draw over the areas I had intimated with my colour choices.
One of the things about Kathryn's class - she doesn't use any products along the lines of adhesives, you just pin your fabrics and then attach them with a meandering stitch, so as not to preempt the finished design.

It isn't fabulous (but maybe the original image isn't fabulous, that could influence the outcome) but it is done and I have tried a new(ish) method. And it is rather small.
I rinsed it to get the water soluble pen off. I rather like the fraying edges, think I will leave it like that. 

I tried the Kathryn Harmer Fox workshop method, that I did recently. I had a piece of the cotton and linen fabric, backed by interfacing, left over from the workshop. It was pretty close to the size I wanted, so I didn't even have to prepare that.

The idea is to trace the image straight onto the fabric, cover it with little bits of fabric and then sew over the top. Because it is quite a firm base, you don't need to use a hoop.

Once you use the small bits of fabric, it is hard, if not impossible, to see the drawing, so I had to rely on the printout of the image. Hence the loose interpretation of the original.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4th Gondwana small quilt.

I was a bit late posting my 4th quilt for our first challenge. The group has only existed for about a year and we set a task of making 4 small (12"x16" - not sure of the metric dimensions, quilting always (mostly) seems to be in inches. Luckily I remember the days when we used imperial measurements - shows my age, I know) quilt.

Anyway, back to my stream of thought, after that rather large interruption.

Our last one was due last Saturday but I still only had the idea. That idea has been rattling around in my head for ages! I even went so far as to print some fabrics. It was when I was in the doldrums a bit and thought that I should be doing something.

So I got out two stamps I had - one on the soft cut stuff, which was a raised image. The other was cut into lino and gave the other sort of image (can only think of 'not-raised').

I had thought about fossils being buried in layers, so decided that I might play around with layering various fabrics and cutting back to them, using the image I have used a few times, of an ammonite. Also called reverse appliqué.

I used black fabric as the background, so I could cut back to that to represent the holes you often see in these fossils.
I have also been doing a little bit of reading about fossils and some of them become opalised. So I thought I would like to put in some colours that might indicate this - and be more interesting than the browns I kept seeing.
I drew the pattern on the background and used a thicker thread in the bobbin to show the spiral. It was only moderately successful, I think I could have used a darker colour, or lighter. More contrast, anyway. 

Work in progress, doing some of the cutting out. Not enough contrast, I thought. 

The daylight caused the photo to look very different. 

One of the fun things was that I used a multicoloured fabric and it was always a surprise what colour would appear.

I am not 100% happy with the outcome, the image doesn't leap out at me, but it is ok. And it is done. And I have learnt from it.
One thing I learnt, or reminded myself of, is that you need to do more than one line of sewing where you are going to do the cutout. The fabric just pulls out if you only use one, you need two to anchor it.

Also, you can't see the various layers all that well, especially that they have other fossil shapes printed on them. No matter, I know that there are other fossils buried in there.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tapestry group challenge

Some members of our small group that meets regularly have taken up a challenge, proposed by one of our members. The challenge was issued in response to our enjoyment of having participated in the Johnston Collection Christmas exhibition last year. We were commenting on the focus it gave us last year and how we need to maintain the enthusiasm.

Now 9 of us are working towards making small tapestries that are going to be put together to make one larger image. A photo of autumn leaves was divided up into 9 sections and we all have a section each to do.
We can use any hitching on method we like but we are all using seine twine 12. That is as far as the instructions go, really. We are free to choose the warp sett that best suits our interpretation, using the seine twine 12, and our colour interpretation is up to us too.

Today we brought along what we had done. Three members have finished theirs (and it was a challenge for at least one person to do that large a warp) and the rest of us have made various amounts of progress.

Doing part of a photo means that you are not trying to reproduce an actual image, you have a more abstract piece to work on. I have found that very freeing. I know, intellectually, that they are parts of leaves but I am working on just parts that have different amounts of light and shade and it is easier to ignore the larger picture. 
I also know that we will not all be interpreting the colours the same way, that we weave differently and that the parts may not all match up perfectly - and it doesn't matter! It is part of the fun.

Two finished pieces and one still on the loom.

Two that go side by side.

Another two side by side.

It was quite exciting to see pieces laid together as they appear in the photo and see the image appearing.

We are working from a small cut-out piece of the original photo, a larger colour printed photocopy (which has printed out slightly different colours from the photo) and a black and white master at the exact size for weaving. It really is aptly called a challenge, to meld those three sources.

I am enjoying it greatly! And it is making me weave.
Thanks Pat, great idea.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Collage to Stitch Textile Exhibiton

Once again, I attended the AQC. I left it a bit later in the day than usual, so didn't have much time to go around the stalls. This is not a bad thing as I have been trying to reduce my stash and use up what I have.

My favourite thing was the Collage to Stitch Textile Exhibition. Two of the four ladies involved were there and talked to us about the whole concept. It showed the development of their concept, from collaging a postcard sized piece, one a day for a year, to making an A4 sized fabric piece, to then making a small art quilt. Suzanne Gummow and Maxine Fry were there and very generously spent quite a bit of time describing the whole process to us. It was very exciting and inspirational.

They got together once a month, for two hours, and showed their postcards. Then they sorted each other's works into piles that they thought could be developed. Then they went home and worked on a small textile piece based on one of the collages. So there was some design and colour discussion to assist with the development of the pieces. It sounded very collaborative and organised.

They agreed to make a collage every day, based on a theme a month. They didn't all have the same theme, they chose one that pleased themselves but stuck to it for the month. The collages were all on display - some on the wall with the sample textile and the finished textile, the rest in huge folders.

It was fabulous and, as I have already said, inspirational. I'll have to talk to some of my groups and see if anyone is interested in adapting the idea to suit us. Or I could do it in isolation but that seems less exciting.

There were the usual wonderful quilts on display and I had a lovely time wandering around being awed and inspired. Of course, the Exhibition Building is a wonderful space in itself, it is always a pleasure to be there.