Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More backyard activity

It is summer, the time of ripening fruit and lots of fruit eaters.  A couple of nights ago our dog was spending quite some time out the back.
Here's why.

After the depredations of the lorikeets, the possums don't seem such bad visitors. Even Penny wasn't bothered by them.  She usually barks at them but took no notice of this one.

This is the first time we have had sunflowers.  The bees have been loving them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Is it finished?

I recently met with some people who are textile artists and we had a lovely chat and show and tell.  We are thinking of meeting regularly in an attempt to encourage each other in our practice.
One of the things that came up in our discussion was knowing when your work is finished.

I feel a bit that way about my blackwork, I have finished the pattern parts but can't decide whether to put outlines around the shapes.

I think it would work better but I can't seem to sew lines that don't look wobbly and stick up further than the rest of the work, so I am thinking I might leave it without the outlines.

The design is based on a stained glass window from my neighbourhood (I have done some other work using this design).

Without the lead lines that are in the window, I think it looks a bit like a Christmas bauble.  Maybe I can use it as a Christmas decoration!  Perhaps I could do a similar one with red and green (which are the colours in the actual window) - SO not going to happen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tawny Frogmouth

There hasn't been the racket from the Rainbow Lorikeets in the backyard lately.  Perhaps it is because all the apples are gone - and the plums.  We actually got quite a few of the ripened plums.
But there have been some ruckuses out the back the last few nights that have mightily interested our dog.

Today (happy Australia Day) a visitor wondered why we had put one of those pretend owls so high up in our tree.  What was she talking about?  Our pretend owls are on the ground near the strawberries and fruit trees (there are still nectarines ripening).

Turns out there was a REAL owl in the tree.  A tawny frogmouth.  (Later correction, apparently it isn't an owl, it's a nightjar and is not raptorial.)

My camera took fairly ordinary photos, I haven't mastered (mistressed?) the zoom yet.  But we all got our cameras out and these are this is the product of a camera with an attachable zoom lens (below).

This is all fairly exciting to have in a suburban backyard. It might be a worry for the ringtail possums though. We haven't seen any of the brushtail possums for quite a while.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Face on a Seat

While out walking at Yarra Bend recently, I saw this seat.  It made me think of Faces in Places, a very amusing site of photos.

As we got closer, it looked less like a face but still not too bad. It actually reminded me of a dog, very appropriate as it is a dog friendly park.

I seem to have run out of oomph lately, hence this rather random post. 
I can't blame it on the weather, we are having the occasional hot day followed by lovely cool days and, more importantly, nights.
I am trying to finish the blackwork but it is an uphill battle at the moment, probably because I am not totally pleased with the design. Oh well, soldier on and see what eventuates.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Still interested in blackwork

I have been trying to design my own blackwork piece for an upcoming Emboriderers' Guild exhibition.  I might not get anything finished for it but at least it gives me something to focus on for the moment.

As I was browsing the internet, I came across a Pintangle site (Friday Freebies, I'll have to read more of that). It had a further link to yet another site (String-or-Nothing) where the owner has made up some designs and provided them free.  What a wonderful resource.

I am sticking to simple designs at present.  This is partly because I am just a beginner with blackwork and don't want to make it too hard for myself.  It is also because I am working on a fairly small design and can't afford to have any intricate designs because I don't think they will fit properly in the space.

I am continuing on with an earlier idea but in a different format.  My idea is to produce a stained glass window design in blackwork.  It may come to nothing but it is something to be thinking about.

I spent quite a while on one part yesterday and then noticed that I had miscounted by one thread and had to pull out half of it.  Luckily, I have learnt patience through my tapestry weaving, where you pull work out all the time, so I wasn't too annoyed with myself. Mind you, I haven't touched it since.

I am not sure if I should have sewn in the outline of the design or not, so decided to do the patterns first, then decide.  Taking photos of your work also lets you see mistakes rather more clearly (not necessarily what I was hoping for!). I will keep plugging along and see what develops.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Playing with Photoshop

I had heard that Adobe is allowing people to download their CS2 suite of programs free!! It is old software but does everything that I can think of needing.
Here is a link about it. However, there is a link on this page to an article that says Adobe is NOT offering it free.  So see if it works for you, if you are interested.
Here is a link to Adobe.
Lucky me, I got Photoshop when I was a student and it was cheaper. Photoshop is an amazing program that has all sorts of applications that I could never use, or even think of discovering (if you know what I mean).

Here is a simple example of some of the amazing things you can end up with, with very little effort.

Original photo
Cropped from top of original
Playing with Hue and Saturation

Hue and Saturation, then Posterise
Then I went back to the original cropped image and played with the gradient map tool. The colours are dictated by the program, not chosen by me.
I can't remember if I posterised this one or not, it certainly looks like it.

One thing I find very interesting about these images is how the dark and light centre seems to be receding or protruding, depending on the tone and colour.
I could spend hours playing around with the effects. I just need to think how I might use the images and with what technique.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The hollyhocks keep on flowering

I have continued to pick up discarded flowers from the hollyhock and now have quite a collection.  I am going to have to use them soon, they are taking up too much room in our freezer.  So far, I have only collected and frozen them.  I need to get inspired to dye again.

The flowers change colour as they dry up, I am wondering if that will affect the dyeing, if I can try for some contact prints, or variegated dying. I'll have to do some research, and re-reading, before I get going again.

It is the season of insects and flowers, so I am having some fun practising with my new camera.

Neither of these have been manipulated with photo programs, it was just the flower and the time of day. The bee was so busy fertilising the hollyhocks that I could get up quite close and it wasn't bothered.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Then there were less!

We had a good crop of plums on our tree, we were just waiting for them to ripen.  They must have ripened today - they were nearly all gone when we got home this afternoon.

I did cover some with my felting tulle, they are still there.  Next year we will need to invest in proper tree covering.

Here is our guard dog, guarding the plum.  Not quite what we had in mind!

We think she thinks it is a ball, she never eats them, just walks around with them held gently in her mouth.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rotting fruit in the garden

The parrots, possums and, probably, rats are having a feast in the backyard at the moment.  Lots of lovely fruit ripening on the trees.  As I posted before, we are not getting much ourselves.  We thought we might be able to tempt some of the animals to eat the damaged fruit rather than that on the trees.  No  such luck.
But the butterflies are loving the rotting fruit.

I've recently bought a new camera and am learning how to use it, so sorry about the out of focus butterflies.  I am gradually learning how to use the different settings.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Traffic Building

A group I belong to has come up with a theme for us to design a tapestry for.  Building.
I have had ideas sloshing around in my brain for ages, nothing much coming from them though.
I took our dog out earlyish this morning, in an attempt to beat the heat.
One of our favourite places is Yarra Bend park, a dog friendly park that is kept well mown so you can see where you are going and can, hopefully, avoid the snakes. And the dogs can swim in the river.
So we were sauntering along (well I was, Penny was busy investigating all the interesting smells) and I looked at the freeway - the traffic was building.  People are returning from their summer holidays and the traffic is noticeably heavier each day lately.
And I had an idea for the theme - traffic building.
Approximately 8.00am

10 minutes later, looking towards the city

Looking away from the city
 We walked over the freeway and the traffic got heavier even as we walked.  Down at the river, all was peaceful.

On our return, the traffic was much heavier.  It is still holiday season and the traffic will only get heavier.  I am so glad I don't have to drive in this sort of traffic very often.

8.40am, looking towards the city

Looking away from the city

Unfortunately, I don't think it would make a good image.  Oh well, keep thinking, something will come to me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How would you like these in your backyard?

If you look closely, you will see why we don't want these beautiful birds in our backyard!!

They are in the apple tree.  It wouldn't be so annoying if they ate one apple but no, they take a bite from one and then move on to the next.  Very annoying.

And now they have decided the plums are ripe enough too.

So we scare them away ...
but not very far.
Can you see the apple tree in the foreground?  It is waiting for us to go away so it can resume its rudely interrupted meal.
By the way, they are Rainbow Lorikeets.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Johnston Collection

Today a friend took me to the Johnston Collection.  What a wonderful exhibition!!!
I had heard about the this museum but had never been.  The exhibition we saw today was a Christmas collection.  It runs until February and I recommend it highly.
We met at the Hilton and were driven the short distance to the house.  We were then broken up into smaller groups and taken through the house by volunteer guides who could tell us lots of interesting details about the things we were seeing. Apparently, this is the best time of year to go, the groups are small and you get plenty of time to really look closely at the works.  And they deserve a close look!

Artists or groups (such as the Embroiderers' Group, Handweavers and Spinners, CWA, etc) from different regions of Victoria have been invited to make decorations for the Christmas exhibition over recent years.  This year the display was of many of the works made for the last 5 years.

The works had been designed in response to items in the house and were presented in the rooms where the inspirational artefacts were kept.  It was amazing.  Such varied techniques, such fine detail, so many hours having gone into the works.
There was hand and machine embroidery  (some amazingly fine work - in both senses of the word). There was patchwork and quilting, knitting and crochet, beading, porcelain, sand painting, ceramics, hand made lace, doll making, miniatures, glass slumping (if that's what you call it) and other techniques I don't know the name of.  But that doesn't do justice to the creativity of the designs and how they related to the house.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos, so no images.  You will just have to go and see it for yourself.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Using the sample

I couldn't just let the sample lie around.  It was roughly square so I trimmed it and used the piece of fabric I had dyed with it and made a cushion cover.  I had planned to use the sample, that's why I did the extra bit.  But I had forgotten to make the back piece large enough for a clever cover that you could get the cushion in and out of easily.  So it is just sewn in.
The dye I used was called Brown Rose but looks rather like the mulberry dyeing I have been doing.  I seem to be on a roll with this colour at the moment. I am collecting the hollyhock flower heads as they fall off and they are a similar colour too.

Now to experiment some more, move on to exercise 2. It involves using pale coloured pre-dyed fabrics.  I have a really good scraps collection so might trawl through them to see if I can find enough to try for a sample piece.  I am going to play around with log cabin or strip piecing, it will depend a little on the pieces I decide to use.  Some of my scraps are rather small.  I tend to keep things when I should really throw them away, so I am hoping that this time I can actually use some.

We are lucky here in Melbourne, the weather is being variable and we are getting relief from the extreme heat, unlike other parts of the country.  I can contemplate actually doing some more experimenting and enjoying the lazy summer days.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dyeing the sampler

After the patchwork and quilting, came the dyeing. (Did you notice I published two posts yesterday and they weren't in the right order?)  It was FAR too hot to be in the glasshouse, where I keep all my dyeing stuff, so I brought bits and pieces into the laundry.  I haven't done much dyeing of cotton, apart from when I did dyeing as one of the subjects in my Studio Textiles and Design course and that was a couple of years ago.  So there was lots of reading the instructions, checking where I had put the chemicals I would need, re-reading and then doing.

I was very excited when I saw that the printed patterns were not taking the dye up and the designs were standing out much more than on the pale fabric.

 I am not sure what is going on with the cotton batting, you can see it around the edges, it is mottled.  But it is ok on the back.  Not to worry, it will be cut off or sewn in.  I probably should experiment more and see if it happens again, and which side reacts this way.

The back turned out evenly dyed.
The dyeing has hidden a lot of my quilting too, it is not nearly as obvious that I have some rather big errors in it.
The different plain cottons took the colour up slightly differently also.

The rinsing out part of the dyeing is rather distressing - you use SO MUCH water.  I wanted to take the rinse water out to the poor suffering plants but wasn't sure if it would poison them; after all, you have to use a mask when mixing up the powders. And there are chemicals added also.

So I emailed the Jacquard company to ask if they have any advice about using it in greywater systems. I got a reply straight away!  It said that the owner of the company uses rinse water for greywater and it should be ok.  But I forgot to ask about the salt and urea that are used in the process too, so I will email again.

As I mentioned earlier, we had a very hot day and we tried to save some of the plants from the direct sun.  We had some success but some things may just have to be let die, especially if the forecasters are correct about the hot weather that is predicted to last until March.
The lettuces in the round tub were shaded, unlike the other.

Poor burnt camellias.

Friday, January 4, 2013

What to do on a hot day?

It is a scorcher today and likely to be hot for a while yet.  We have card tables, chairs, etc covering some of the plants in an attempt to shield them from the sun. Here's hoping it works.
So ... what to do on a hot day?

We took the dog out early in an effort to beat the heat.  We went to Yarra Bend for a swim and I got some photos that might turn out useful for a design.

I even played around with Photoshop for a while.

Cropped from the picture above.

Cropped further.

Hue and Saturation
As you can see, I was not all that energised, I just did some simple manipulation of the photos. Still, I might get a good abstract design for some tapestry weaving or fabric printing, who knows?

I was then tempted to have a nanna nap but managed to stay up doing some experimenting with patchwork and dyeing.  More about that in the next post.