Thursday, December 29, 2016

Too Hot, Too Wet!

We are having hot and humid weather. It is very hard to be motivated to be creative.
It rained mightily today but we didn't have our usual 15 degree drop in temperature that we usually get with thunderstorms, it is just hot and humid.

I walked down the street to see the views of the city - there weren't any - well, not great views of the city. It was extremely misty, I suppose it is the humidity. Not something we are used to in our summers. However, we have had more and more humid weather over the last few year. Don't tell me the climate isn't changing.

Here are some views of the city tonight - and the mist rising from the trees. When I first got there, you could not see the city at all! Most unusual.

You can see some pictures from the same vantage point, that I have taken in previous years, here and here.

I also have some pictures of our tiny creek, not so tiny tonight after the huge amount of rain we had this afternoon.

I also took a photo of the hydrangea at the front door - usually I am taking photos because of it wilting g in the heat and then rejuvenating after being watered. Today I took photos because of it being beaten down by the rain.

I noticed, while I was searching previous posts, that we had a flood along Darebin Creek in 2011 and my photos were not all that different. And it was summer then too. 
I really don't like the humidity! I can go to Queensland for that, Melbourne should have dry heat. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Between Projects

It may just be that it is that time of the year. I am between projects, not feeling very enthused about anything at the moment.
Summer is approaching, although we had a lovely cool night last night. The weather is changing on a daily basis and I think that enervates me. Any excuse.

Anyway ... The tapestry disappeared from the clothes line and is currently residing under some fennel greenery in the compost heap. And the temperature in the compost has risen in the last day. It is now approaching 60 degrees, something that I have been assured it to be desired (for compost).

The tapestry is only just under the surface, so not exposed to the full heat - yet. I will try to contain my interest and tendency to fiddle with it. I will leave it for at least three days (maybe!) and then put it down deeper.

I have also been trying to finish off a machine embroidery piece I started early in November. It was supposed to be going to be for The Alcove's summer sale/exhibition but I didn't get it finished. A familiar story.
Not the finished version, still a work in progress. 

It is based on a photo I took a few years ago and have used previously. This piece is slightly larger than A4.  I am thinking of doing another frame making course before trying to complete the whole piece.
(You can see how I have used the photo for a much smaller embroidery here.)

I have realised that it could fit the Ebb and Flow theme of the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria. This exhibition won't be till October but I probably won't do any great things for it in the near future, so it can be my failsafe piece. And we are allowed to put in up to three pieces, so I can still work on the idea.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Little Bit of Colour

I have taken the tapestry out of the garden. It has gained a little bit of colour from the hollyhock flowers.

I'm not sure if that colour will stay. If it rains in the near future I may find out.

The tapestry is currently hanging on the clothes line. Rain is forecast for Tuesday, so I may leave it there till then. That will be the test, whether the colour stays in during rain.

Then I  am going to put it in the compost heap. We have some new greenery in it at the moment, so that may have an effect.
The compost heap is covered to keep the forever hungry dog out! 

The compost is only at about 40 degrees Celsius at the moment. But that is warm enough to do something (she says, hopefully). It sometimes gets up to 60 degrees. That would be interesting.

There has been some family discussion about whether or not it will smell after being in the compost, so it may have to be washed, which may get rid of any colour also.

It is definitely still a work in progress!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hydrangeas and Christmas

It is an interesting date again - 12/12/16.
Not much has been happening, in terms of textiles. The tapestry is still in the garden but the weather has been much the same. Warm to hot days, especially in the sun. The tapestry is in shade for a lot of the day, lying under the hollyhock leaves. More flowers are falling but not much is happening in terms of colour for the tapestry.

But the hydrangeas are getting ready to burst into colour - something that happens every Christmas.

I also took some photos of the grass that we have had in our garden for ever! It is one of my favourite plants. I am not sure exactly what it is, I think it is a grass from South Africa. But that could be totally wrong.

The leaves are gorgeous and I really must see if I can use them for a design one day.

The hibiscus is gorgeous too. I have read that they are related to the hollyhocks. So I suppose I could use them for dyeing. But I think the colour would not be particularly strong, so I haven't bothered so far.
I am collecting some of the hollyhock flowers, just in case I decide to use them. I am not pulling them off the plant, just picking them up from the ground.
As you may be able to tell, I am thinking about textiles a bit but not doing much.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Continuing on.

I noticed the date: 12/12/16, so had to blog.
Nothing of much interest has occurred. I have left my little tapestry piece in the garden, under the hollyhocks. Some flowers fell on it and it was damp in the morning, due to the dew. More flowers have fallen but they have dried out as it was hot today.

But there is a little colour from the petals. They are also tending to disintegrate in the heat, and with handling, so that may be an issue.

It is supposed to be hot again tomorrow but there is rain forecast for a couple of days hence, so I will try to be patient and not interfere with the process in the meantime. It is quite possible that the tapestry will get wet as the household gardener might water the plants. Not a natural element I suppose, but still water. Just not rain.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Beginnings of change

I left my tapestry out overnight for two nights (so far). It was quite windy, so I laid a bit of wood on top to stop it blowing away. It also rained a bit. So it is lying under the mulberry tree, despite there not being many berries at the moment.

Obviously there are a few, or birds eating them, as there are some purplish stains on it. Not sure how colourfast it will be. Suppose it doesn't really matter as I have no intention of actually washing the piece, unless it becomes absolutely necessary due to circumstances beyond my control - i.e., a bad smell from the compost heap, when it eventually gets there. Whatever happens, it won't be a piece that gets a lot of use and therefore needs frequent washing.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Too Slow!

I noticed that our hollyhocks had grown very tall this year, probably due to the rather wet spring we have just had.
I thought I would tie them up so they wouldn't blow over.

So I went out this morning with the cut bits of the warp that I collected, now that I have cut off my small tapestry.
But I was too late for two plants!

I pulled off the flowers that had opened and mourned the many that had not developed yet.

I must admit, it isn't all bad. I was starting to wonder what I was going to do with all those flowers. Now I have much less stress.

I have been collecting them as I couldn't bear to see them just go to waste, but I don't think I have used up all of last year's flowers. Amazingly, the dried up, desiccated flowers still produce colour. I just have to get myself motivated to dye some more fabric - and then think about what I might do with it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I just could not not have texture!

I missed yet another interesting date last week, 4/12/16. And there is another coming soon, 8/12/16. But I am going to post today anyway, in case I forget tomorrow.

I have made my small white(ish) tapestry. I was going to practise even weaving, keeping my edges straight, etc. But I just couldn't bring myself to do that - I really like texture.

So I introduced some knobbly yarn I had. I don't know what it is made of, so my experiment is not going to be particularly scientific. But then, I am only doing for interest, not a real scientific enquiry.

And I was going along ok with the straight edges but then must have lost concentration for the last 3rd of the piece. It comes in on the right - always on the right.
Actually, the pulling in doesn't seem so bad in this picture, maybe I managed to pull it into shape a bit.

It is currently 'resting' on the loom, prior to being cut off tomorrow. Then I will put it under the mulberry tree, to be exposed to The Elements - including some fruit.

The plan is to leave it out in the open for a while and see what happens. We are currently having a fair bit of sun and warm weather. Then I will put it in the earth, in the compost heap. So that will be The Elements - sun/fire, earth, wind/air, water/rain (if we have any in the near future. Actually, it is supposed to be raining in a couple of days).

So  you can all look forward to some wonderful  pictures.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Something new for me.

I was going to blog on the interesting date, 16/11/16, but I didn't have anything interesting to say!
Now it is the 24th - hmm, maybe my life isn't that interesting at the moment.

Anyway, I am working on a small tapestry at the moment, based on the idea of The Four Elements. I am not sure my image is going to work. As usual, I had an idea and started before I had really worked it all out. So my image was a lightly coloured pencil thing (I used two images from 123RF, a copyright image place, if you pay for the images.)
Then I started weaving and instantly began with bright colours! So I am having to make colour decisions as I go, as the cartoon is only a vague suggestion of what I want(ed).

I found that I had woven a small section and didn't like how I had done it. I wanted to change the colours slightly, make them stronger. It is a curving piece and I would have had to pull out some of my weaving to get to the piece I didn't like. I have pulled out more on this piece than I have EVER pulled out in one tapestry and that may have influenced me in my decision to just pull out the offending part and see if I could fix it without having to pull out all the other bits.

So I pulled out the bits that were at the top, lifted some side bits to get at the curve and then pulled it out.

Then I used a tapestry needle to 'sew' the new colour in. It seems to have worked, probably because it was a very small section and didn't need a lot of manoeuvring.

I am not confident that the final piece is going to be altogether successful. So I am considering making a very simple piece, maybe just one colour. Then I can put it out in the weather, bury it in the compost heap and maybe even burn part of it. That should cover the four elements - water (rain - we are having plenty of that at the moment, maybe I had better hurry before summer eventually arrives); air (wind);  earth (compost heap); and fire (could be the heat from the compost, the sun or just a candle).

I'll wait to see how the first one goes. It seems a lot of work to weave a piece and then let the elements have their way on it. But it would definitely suit the theme. But I would have to hurry to finish it, so that the elements will have time to work on it before it is due to be handed in to my tapestry group.

I am even thinking of using different weft yarns, maybe wool, cotton and linen, to see how they react to the elements. It might make the actual weaving a bit more interesting too. Not that I am definitely going to do it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Spring, moving in to Christmas

It's that time of year again - sort of.
The hydrangeas are starting to get flowers.
One even had a rectangular-looking flower.

The hydrangeas are usually flowering around Christmas. It just seems a bit early this year. I'm not sure if it the very wet spring we have had or if I am just aware of it earlier than usual.

The olive tree is throwing huge amounts of flowers onto the ground. I hope it means a good crop of olives, not that we usually do that much with them.

There are seeds everywhere.
The mulberries are available. The birds are eating them. The berries are making stains on the ground, usually a reminder that they would be good for dyeing fabric (if we haven't eaten in the meantime).

One of our neighbours is leaving bread out for the crows. (Special note: we call them crows here in Victoria, apparently they are really ravens.)
They use our bird baths and doggy water bowls to soak the bread before eating it. Clever birds.

The crows nest is still in the gum tree, despite the baby having hatched and being one of the users of the water bowls. Or is that babies? I haven't been keeping a close enough eye on them to know how many birds have hatched this year.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post card swap 3

I have sent all my postcards and have received most of my return ones.
So here are the pictures of all the ones I sent.
Free motion sewing on soluble fabric, using some sari silk ribbons and yarns. Dyed silk background. 

Based on fossil idea. Silk roving, chiffon, silk, scrim. Some hand sewing.

Silk hankies, free motion sewing, silhouette done with black fabric, free motion sewing to attach. 
They were sent rather randomly, I didn't have any particular reason for sending different ones to different people.
A couple were sent to New Zealand, so I tried to make them either the Melbourne skyline or based on central Australia.

It was quite good fun to make them. They are quite small, 10x15cm (postcard size). It was a bit of a challenge to make them fit the smaller format in some cases.
But it was a great opportunity to play with ideas and techniques.

I have received most of mine now and am feeling inspired to try some new techniques or to revive some old ones.
It has been quite a challenge to do so many but it has also been very exciting to receive them all in the mail.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Post Card Swap 2

I had intended to make more of the free motion post cards but I got sidetracked by the fossil idea that I had used for making my last Gondwana piece (which I also put in the Buda exhibition).

I used the same technique to make the shell but didn't use batting on the backgrounds. I tried using adhesive interfacing but the fabric was too transparent and didn't work well. I also found that, not having the batting, the texture was less. I didn't use the machine to sew the shell pieces to the backgrounds as that flattens the piece too much. So I spent several hours doing some very simple sewing to attach it all.

Once again, I made the pieces larger than needed, so I could cut them to the correct size. This meant that I had to cut off some pieces that I rather liked, to make them fit.

One thing I learnt - if you are going to put another piece of interfacing on the background, to make it stronger and to hide the sewing, then you should make it slightly smaller than the top. If you don't do that, you can see the white edges and they are hard to get rid of.

So I now have made all the pieces and posted them. Some of them will take 7 working days to get there. As we have a local holiday on Tuesday, for the Melbourne Cup horse race, I am not sure when they will arrive.
I will not post any pictures here of the finished pieces until I have heard that they all arrived - if I remember to do it then.

Perhaps I will have moved on to something new by then!

The postcards have been interesting to do because they have given me the chance to play around with techniques in a small format. The smaller format has some design issues that relate to them specifically but, overall it has given me a chance to refine, reinforce or change some ideas.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Post Card Swap

One of the things my online group has decided to do is make postcards to send to each member who chose to participate. There were 15 of us (if I have counted correctly). So I had to make 14.

I did a few using the first technique we learnt at Michelle Mischkulnig's workshop, a couple of weekends ago.

I can't remember why but I decided to try a technique that I have used before - free motion sewing using some sari silk and other threads and yarns to anchor the sewing.

I only made three as I had forgotten that it is so much easier if you use the sticky soluble fabric. I did the three that fitted on the fabric I had prepared.

 I was going to make more, using the sticky soluble, but ended up only making the three.

I laid the long piece out on a cardboard box top, hoping to pin it tightly so it would not shrink too much. Not a great idea, as it turned out. It stuck to the cardboard and I had to wet it again to get the cardboard off.

So then I pinned it to an old piece of polystyrene that we had lying around. That worked much better.

Then I cut the pieces to size. I had made them all a bit bigger than I needed, allowing for some shrinkage. I then sewed put a piece of dyed silk that I had, from ages ago, as a background. I ironed it onto some adhesive interfacing.

Then I sewed around the edge to make it all secure. I will post images of these once they have been received by the participants.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trying to use the workshop lessons

I am in an online group that is currently making and sending postcards of our textile works. We have to do 14, which seems a lot. But I am working through them.
So far, I have done 6 using some of the ideas from the workshop with Michelle Mishkulnig.
I used silk hankies to make a background, then put some little bits of threads from other projects, a very small amount of Angelina fibre, then another layer of silk hankie. Then I did some free motion sewing on the background.

A couple of the pieces are based on a picture I have from my trip to Uluru a couple of years ago. The colours just seemed to suggest the Australian landscape.

When I went to put the interfacing on the back, so I could put the address of the recipient, I realised that you could see straight through it. So now I have put card not the back. This means that I now have a sewing machine needle that is for paper sewing, in a special container. I just need to remember that that is what it is for.

The others were done using a silhouette of the Melbourne skyline that I have used in the past.
So far I have made 6 of these.

I won't post pics of the finished pieces till the recipients have got the works, just so I don't spoil the surprise. They don't have to be posted till the 29th of October and I still have 5 or 6 to make, so I had better get a wriggle-on, as they say.