Thursday, January 30, 2014

Summer fruit

The garden smells delicious at the moment.  You can tell which nectarines are ripe, just smell them.
And my fabric is working.
The sun shines through

and it catches them (well, some of them).

We have left some out for the birds but so far we are getting most of them.

The lorikeets have moved on to the Granny Smith apples - they must have just ripened enough today and now they are all gone.
And no, we don't have several apple trees, we have one that has been grafted and fruits at different times.

The tomatoes have been struggling with the cold start to summer, then the extreme heat! But we have a couple of lovely ones coming in. Beautiful colours and patterns. Maybe I could do a tapestry of a tomato for our Colour theme.  Something to ponder.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Australia Day(s)

Yesterday was Australia Day. It was a perfect summer day, cool in the shade, very warm in the sun and we had a lovely cool evening where you could sit around outside in comfort.
I knew it was going to get warm so took Penny out early to Yarra Bend Park for our daily perambulation (we don't use the 'w' word, she knows that and gets keen to go before we are quite ready for a walk).
I took my trusty camera with me in case there were some interesting sights. The sun was shining through the leaves and I took a lot of photos with some thought of coming up with a design for our local tapestry weaving group's theme of Colour.
I am also considering making a small tapestry based on the theme Light and Shade (it is for an online group) and so was influenced by my recent thinking on that topic.

As I rarely draw or paint, I played around with a few of them in Photoshop to see if I could abstract them a bit, to make them easier to weave.  I just used the filters and came up with some that were more abstract.  It is great fun going through the filters, you get so many variations it is hard to keep track of what might be useful and what is just fun to do. I'll have to have a more serious look later and decide if I think I might actually be able to weave any of them.
I'm not sure why this filter option exists, I've never found a use for it, but it is a very different interpretation of the image.  I suppose, if I do this, it won't have to be green, I can make it any colour I like.  I love playing with the Hue and Saturation thingy too. 

I noticed that I was getting a lot of green and gold - very appropriate for Australia Day. I know we have the red, white and blue flag but so do a whole lot of other countries, so Australia's colours are usually green and gold.

Today is the Australia Day holiday, seeing Australia Day fell on a Sunday this year. As it is going to be hotter today, and is already windy, we took Penny out early again, back to Yarra Bend Park. It is quite close to the city, so we were surprised to see a kangaroo hopping around. Unfortunately, it is a dog-friendy park where dogs are off-lead and we did see one dog chase the kangaroo. We didn't see where the kangaroo ended up and were worried it had gone onto the freeway but then we met someone who had seen it (assuming there was only one) on the other side of the freeway and we hope it got into the bushy area beside the river where dogs do not go.

We go to this park because Penny can swim in the river, today there was also someone in a boat!

And you do get good shadows in the early part of the day. I'm not sure if I will ever get a good design out of this sort of image but it is enjoyable to take the photos and to be there seeing them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I couldn't resist putting this in.  I saw it as I was about to get Penny back in the car after our morning walk at Rosanna.
It was quite startling to see a little skull-like image on the ground.  It is only tiny and just caught my eye.
I took the photo with my not very expensive phone, so the quality is not great, sorry.
This is the sort of summer weather I like, cool nights, not too bad in the shade and hot in the sun.  So stay out of the sun!  And take the dog out early(ish).

I might even feel up to tidying my studio today - one can hope.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Still working on the wall hanging quilt

After laying out all the pieces of fabric vertically, I then had to take them back off and put Vliesofix on the backs of all of them, then cut them out again.  That took a couple of hours.
Towards the end I thought that I probably hadn't needed to cut them out precisely (which took me an hour and a half) but then, when I became less particular with the cutting out, I realised that you do have to be precise, otherwise there will be little bits of Vliesofix appearing on your quilt top - ask me how I know.

Thank goodness for modern technology!  I took photos of the placement of all those little pieces before I removed them to put the Vliesofix on and then spent AGES looking at the images to see if I could replicate it all.  I managed it reasonably well.

Then it was time to put on the backing, the batting and pin it all together, ready for sewing. 
I accidentally bought bamboo batting (long story) and it has been rather thin, not much loft.  I think there is too much coming through on the backing too, but I will wait till I have finished the quilt before I decide if I will use bamboo again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beautiful Summer's Day continued.

As the day was still cool enough to take the dog out, I took her to Willsmere Park, a lovely off-lead park, and threw her toy around for her. She loves swimming, so I threw it in the river too. Then we made our way back to the car, going from shady spot to shady spot.
There was yet another bird not really bothered by our proximity.  A magpie this time.
One of my favourite trees in the park has broken limbs. It reminded me that you should not camp under such trees, no matter the wonderful shade they give!

It seemed a good source of green eucalyptus leaves but I resisted the temptation to take any, I am not unhappy with my dyeing but I don't need any more brown fabric.
However, I AM feeling inspired by Pat Scholz who has used strips of silk she dyed to weave a small tapestry. I just love the texture of it and may have to give that a go. I have plenty of silk to try it with. That can be next on my agenda, after I finish the current quilt and TIDY UP THE ROOM - not looking forward to that!

Then I got to thinking about something I seem to remember hearing when at primary school - too long ago to tell. I have this idea that we were told that gum trees (eucalypts) turn their leaves sideways to the sun to conserve moisture. "I'll search the internet about that and find out for sure" I thought to myself. Well, I came across this article. It appears that some leaves do but not on a daily basis, just as they age on the tree - that is, if I have understood the article which is in doubt.

I was also reminded of the sessions I used to have with parents where I would give them an article to read. They could read the article aloud but most could not tell the group what it was about - context and prior knowledge being sooooo important.  Phonic knowledge lets you read the words aloud, we know how to sound them out, we know particular spelling patterns and how to say them, but that doesn't tell us what the meaning is. Well, this is one of those articles! Have a go, see if you can read it.  I must admit I only read a few paragraphs and then skipped to the conclusion - something we were always taught was a very important part of any writing you did in this vein.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Beautiful Summer's Day

It was a bit cool this morning! How wonderful. It is sunny today, so the temperature is climbing but it is still lovely in the shade.
I took the silk fabrics out of their jars and rinsed and dried them. The colours are not very exciting.  In fact, I was feeling rather blah about two pieces of crepe silk when a visitor said something that explained why I didn't like them - they are very reminiscent of the pantyhose we had to wear as part of our school uniforms, back in the days when pantyhose were a new invention and they were of disgusting, thick fabric. So no more brown crepe silk for me.
And the slightly yellow dandelion flowers were ready too.
The colours are not quite right in the pic but you get the drift. 
However, I also did a package of silk lining fabric that was put into black plastic bags (used Post Office bags) and left to soak with a heavy brick on top, maintaining the pressure of the contact. I put some vinegar in the water too as I read somewhere that it helps to stop the mould growing.
 That has turned out more interesting.
That's the contact one on the left. It isn't as purple as it looks here but it is ok.

While I was in the backyard getting the fabric out of the jars, the lorikeets were continuing their feast. They even invited friends, there were four of them in the tree. And they didn't seem all that concerned about how close I was. Despite their beautiful colours, they can be surprisingly hard to see in the tree.

There are at least two birds in this picture.  There were four in the tree but the sun shone on the screen and I couldn't tell if I had got them all in the frame.  Their camouflage is good!
I just hope my tree covering works and we get some nectarines.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Attaching all the bits of fabric

I am still working on the quilt, have been for several days now.  I forgot that if I lay out the fabrics and then stick them on with Vliesofix, basically glue them on to my background fabric, then I will have to sew them all on as well. There are a lot of little bits! There will need to be a lot of quilting.
I hope it doesn't change my design too much. I tend to forget that the quilting will change the quilt top to some degree. I spend all this time choosing the colours, laying them out how I want and then I have to quilt it. All that quilting will change the handle of the quilt too. Luckily it is a wall quilt so won't need to be soft and cuddly.
I think my preference when making quilts is for the patchwork part, rather than the quilting. So I tend to  concentrate on the design and then have to try to do unobtrusive quilting.
I found a book at the local library that has been quite interesting to browse. It is called doodle QUILTING by Cherly Malkowski. When I saw it I wondered why anyone would buy such a book but I did borrow it and now I am finding it useful to look at and consider what sort of quilting I can do that will hold down the fabrics, complement the design and not be too obtrusive. So it is obviously a book that people will find useful.
It reminded me of some of the doodling I have been doing lately. It is becoming a bit of a theme in the books and sites I have found recently.
I spent a bit of time choosing what threads to use too - as it is not for actual, everyday use, I can choose some embroidery thread rather than sturdy quilting thread. I don't want to use colours that will be too obvious, so I will choose threads that fit different parts of the quilt and change them according to where on the quilt I am working.

Monday, January 20, 2014

More about our visit to Melbourne Now

After lunch, we wandered off to see some of the exhibitions.  Roger, the curator, had spoken about the MaterialByProduct exhibition that used works from the NGV collection to inspire contemporary weaving. So that was our first stop.  The inspirational pieces were gorgeous in themselves and were set up in a glass case that had a mirror underneath the fabrics so you could see the backs of them too.  I think I liked the backs as much as the fronts.

You can see a reflection of some of the modern interpretations in the mirror too.  

There were some paper cutouts by Sangeeta Sandresegar that I also loved. 

Then I decided to put the camera away and just enjoy it all.  There is so much to see that it will be necessary to go again.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

How a textile artist protects the fruit trees

We have lost a lot of apples and apricots to the wildlife recently - and to the heat. Possums and rats get some but the majority seems to go to the rainbow lorikeets.
What is left of some apples.
I decided that enough is enough and took some of my sheer fabrics out to cover them in the hopes that the creatures will not be able to access the fruit. I chose sheer fabrics so the sun can continue to shine through (it is much less intensely hot at the moment) and ripen the fruit.That probably says something about the efficacy of the parasols I have made but not attempted to use as these are fabrics I had for that project.

I suspect it is about time for them to be ripe, the lorikeets have started on the nectarines.
I also suspect that the rats may not be deterred by my efforts but they seem to eat less than the birds. And the garden is colourful, at least. I also had a limited amount of fabric and could not reach the high bits, so there is plenty for everyone. In fact, we were quite happy for the birds to be eating on those really hot days, we thought it might be providing some moisture for them - and food.
So there is food enough for all of us, we hope.

Every time I go out the back, the birds are in the trees. I can't really see them, and the fabric makes it even better camouflage, but they are a bit wary of us and fly away when we approach - as far as the tree that overhangs the apple and nectarine trees. 

If you'd like to see some more images, of the lorikeets caught red-beaked, you can see some pictures here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

visiting Melbourne Now at the NGV

As it will be the Australia Day long weekend next week, out tapestry group decided to meet this week instead.  And as it is still the holidays and there are summer school courses on at the guild rooms, we decided to meet at the NGV and see some of the Melbourne Now exhibition.
Another group from the guild had made arrangements to meet also and had even made arrangements to have a talk by one of the curators of the textiles and fashion section. They very kindly asked us if we would like to go with them.  Of course we said yes.
So we got to see a sample of some William Morris pattern weaving

and some coptic weaving from the collection.

We were also given an insight into an upcoming (in 2017!) English embroidery exhibition of works from the collection.  We had a very interesting discussion of what is involved in setting up such a collection and how much effort is needed to research and conserve the materials that are already in the collection.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see behind the scenes.

Then we parted ways with the weaving group, had lunch and ventured in to the Melbourne Now exhibition.  It is huge!  There are quite a few interactive parts.
You get to put little vinyl birds onto the wall.  
It was children's day too, which was very well attended. It was lovely to see all the families there, all the different groups of people, just wandering around having a lovely day.

I must remember that they keep the gallery rather cool, it would have been a perfect place to go these last few days.  Thankfully, the temperature has dropped a great deal and it was much more comfortable today.  I am almost feeling too cool - never happy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

What to do with those ugly fabrics you have made.

One good thing has come of keeping some of the unsatisfactory designs I came up with early in my screen print classes, we can use them to try to shelter plants from the sun.
I seem to remember using this fabric a few years ago when we had another hot stint like this. And last year the poor plants got badly burnt.
We have tried to shelter it again.  We left it a bit late, some leaves are already scorched but we decided to have a go anyway.

Below is another camellia that we covered a few days ago.  You can see the burnt leaf at the bottom, it has not done well at all. The other leaves, behind the sheet, have done a little better.  We had been protecting the plant from the afternoon sun, you can see the morning sun shining on the sheet.  Today it was sooooo hot sooo early that we decided to try both sides even though the morning sun is not usually as bad as the afternoon.

While searching for old sheets and large pieces of fabric to use, I came across old screen print pieces from my first year.  I didn't really have much design background and, doing the part time course and unable to attend the design classes before doing the print class, just came up with some simple designs.  But I still like these, especially when I can cut them up and use different parts in my work.  They are painted nasturtium leaves used for printing, then the images were photocopied.  The photocopier also had the facility to reverse the image, so I could put both on the screen.   
It was a bit serendipitous as I have just come across this blog, where the artist is playing around with nasturtium designs.  
And we have been eating nasturtium leaves in our salads lately - while they are still alive.