Sunday, August 30, 2015

Out walking after the rain

Although it is not officially Spring, we are having some definitely spring-like weather.  We had a looong day of rain recently, followed by a beautiful sunny day.
I visited a local park and noted the yellow gum blossoms on the ground. My friend and I speculated about whether the rainy weather might have caused it but we both agreed that it is more likely to be the outcome of cockatoo activity.

After that walk, I took our dog to Willsmere Park where the river was very muddy-looking.

I know that people have often referred to the Yarra River as the 'upside down' river and it was clear why they might say that. It looked like a path rather than water. Penny doesn't usually care, she will happily swim in it. I didn't let her swim this time though, the current was a bit too strong. 

I found this quote about the quality of the water at Wikipedia.

Water colour 

The distinctive colour of the river is easily recognisable.
The Yarra River has been derogatively called "the river that runs upside down", a jibe at its high turbidity.[22] The muddy brown colour is caused by the easily eroded clay soils of its catchment area. The water was clear at the time of the first European settlements, but intensive land clearing and development since the mid-19th century has resulted in the presence of microscopic clay particles. The particles are kept suspended by the turbulence in some parts of the middle and lower sections of the river. When the river water combines with marine salts as it enters Port Phillip, the suspended particles clump together and sink. The presence of clay particles is not a major factor in the pollution of the river.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making some thread flowers

A friend is organising a 'small art' exhibition with the theme Full Bloom. So I have been working on some images.

The latest idea is to make some thread sewn flowers, as we did at the Meredith Woolnough workshop earlier in the year.

I spent several hours making three flowers.

I sewed them in circular shapes, using free motion embroidery.

Pink is sooo not my colour! But the apricot and nectarine blossoms are coming out in the backyard and I was influenced by them. And I had a whole lot of pink thread, left over from a previous lot of work on gum blossoms.

I have been using wooden frames for my machine embroidery but discovered that the plastic and metal hoop works well too. I wanted to use it because it is smaller and the flowers were only little. And they fit under the foot much more easily.

I dissolved the soluble fabric and laid the flowers out in some aluminium foil to dry. I used the foil to give them an extra support in the shaping of the pieces.

Now all I have to do is think about how I might use them, how I might mount them.

It was another day when I was not feeling great and didn't know what to do - so I sewed. This was not necessarily a great idea, I now have a stiff neck and sore back. But I also have three flowers. So not all bad.

I will work on how to present them, how to include them in a 'small art' way.

Friday, August 28, 2015

You REALLY should listen to your body!

Yesterday was a rare day with nothing in the diary. I had thought to have an easy day, maybe work on some floral designs for the 'small art' exhibition a friend is trying to get off the ground.

I knew I wasn't feeling great but thought it was just because it was raining - all day!  It was one of the extremely rare days that our dog did not get a walk. It is definitely getting to be spring weather.

I had finished sewing my second gum blossom picture.

I thought I would iron on some adhesive interfacing, as I had done with the previous piece.

Unfortunately, I ironed the front onto the interfacing (it is a little difficult to tell the front from the back, due to the heavy sewing).  I had thought I shouldn't be trying to finish it off because I wasn't feeling at my best but I hadn't realised that my best was rather further away than I had thought. I really should have listened to my body.

So then I pulled off the interfacing (rather easier to do than I had envisaged) and washed it all again, in the hopes that the glue would wash out. The glue had not stuck that well, it was easy to pull the piece apart. (This may not be a good sign for the final mounting!)

Then I left it to dry. It seems ok, so I mounted it in the same way as the yellow gum blossom. They were not exactly the same size but I have trimmed the other and now they are a pair!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kate Derum Tapestry Award 2015

The winner of the Kate Derum Award for Small Tapestries was announced last Thursday evening.

We started the evening in the main part of the workshop where there is a large tapestry on the very large loom!

It was great to be able to get up close and see the work, the textures and yarns being used.
There was an explanation on display, along with samples that had been done initially, to show the artist the types of interpretations that could be done of his work.

It was especially interesting to read that he had then worked with the weaving medium in mind.
I have made this a big larger than usual so you will, hopefully, be able to read it if you click on it. 

We then moved into the gallery where all the tapestries were on display. As usual, it was hard to see them all in detail due to the crowd, but I did get to see them all eventually.  No wonder the judges had such a hard time deciding. There were some amazing pieces.

The winner was Marilyn Rae-Menzies, from New Zealand.

There were participants from quite a few countries: Australia (of course), New Zealand, the UK, Mexico, the USA, Latvia.  That is all I can remember at the moment. They ran out of catalogues on the night but I found it online here.

There was another award too, the Irene Davies Emerging Artist Award, won by Agnese Ondzule, of Latvia.

Friday, August 21, 2015

More on the free motion yellow gum blossom piece

Trying to be frugal, I printed two images out onto preprepared silk. This was a mistake, neither of them fit into the hoop.

They both fit onto an A4 piece of paper, so are quite small. 
I have worked on the yellow one. I cut the two images apart as I decided that they would fit the hoop in one direction but not the other sides, so I might as well treat the unused one carefully and not wrench it around in the hoop.

But the image was too small to fit the hoop properly, so I backed it with the sticky soluble fabric. This worked well as a stabiliser - but probably wasn't frugal in the long run!

However, when I rinsed it out, I found that the lovely sheen from some of the threads was gone. I had forgotten that about using soluble fabric, you nearly always lose the lustre and the colour darkens.

This is it while still wet, so the colours are even darker. 
And it shrinks a bit. I did pin it while it was drying but it has definitely shrunk.

Then I remembered having heard someone say that she soaks her pieces overnight and that gets more of the gluey substance out. So I put the sewing back into a tub of water and waited patiently.

Here it is, there is some sheen visible. So maybe I will try that method again with the other image I have printed out. But I will need to work out how to frame it, it doesn't fit a standard frame and the edge is so close on one side that I am not sure how I will attach it to a backing board.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gum blossom and thread painting

A friend has had an idea to have a 'small art' show. The theme is botanical, floral.
So I have been thinking what I can do that will fit it but not take a huge amount of effort. It is all due fairly soon and I want to have something to contribute.

I have done a thread painting in the past and could try that again. But it was rather small, just a sample for a course I was doing. So I would have to enlarge the image, if only I could remember where I saved it, IF I saved it.
This one was printed onto cotton and then I just thread painted over the top, a bit like colour by number. 

I have been taking photos of some gum blossom in our front yard as well as at the park and at various places while out with the dog.

Today I was outside a house that had a gorgeous flowering gum. I took a few pictures. It was a fairly still day but the flowers are always on the ends of very long branches that WILL move in the breeze!! But I managed a few photos.

So now I have to choose which ones to use. I am going to go down the very simple path - print a picture onto fabric, probably silk as that is what I seem to have packets of, and then thread paint over the top.

I am feeling that it might work with the sort of process I learnt in the Alison Holt workshop. I could paint areas of colour and then thread paint over them. First, I will try the printing the photo method, then I might have a go at the painting the areas of colour method.
I think I will prefer the second as it seems to offer more creative freedom but I need to try both, see what happens.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dog walks

After handing in my work I feel a little lazy, not all that creative.
It is also winter and we have had some cold and damp days - not enough to keep us inside all the time … because we have a dog!  Who likes to go out every day.

So I rugged up, wearing my lovely warm scarf that I knitted recently. I haven't knitted in ages so decided to start simple. It is a plain knit done on a circular needle. I found some (rather expensive) possum and merino wool from New Zealand (possums are vermin there and protected here).  It knits up into a wonderfully warm, soft and light scarf.

First, we went to Heide Museum of Modern Art. As we had the dog, we only walked the grounds, which are very interesting in themselves - they grow their own produce for the restaurant and the herb and vegetable gardens are very educational.

I took my camera and recalled the beginnings of this latest course, when we had to look around for lines and dots.  They are everywhere, especially in winter when all the imported trees have lost their leaves.

The first thing I saw, once we got near the old house, was this wonderful old oak tree.
I did meet someone lately who volunteers at the Botanic Gardens and she was telling me that oak trees don't live as long in Australia as in the northern hemisphere, the weather doesn't suit them as well. But this lovely one is still there, not that old, after all, in terms of oak trees.

We wandered a bit further and came across this giant pear tree. I can't imagine that many pears are picked from it.

On another day, we went to a different park nearby. I had dithered around all day and, of course, it started to rain as we arrived. It wasn't very heavy so we persevered (I persevered, Penny doesn't mind the rain at all usually).

Here she is wondering what is so interesting about this tree (lots of dots of course). I didn't mind it as much as usual as the rain meant the pollen and perfume wasn't as bad for me as it often is.

Several days of walking have produced some interesting images. Now all I have to do I use them.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Handing in the year's work.

Today was the day we had to hand in all our folders, samples and exhibition pieces for assessment.
I had diligently gone through my lesson notes over the last couple f weeks and finished off bits and pieces.
Then I noticed that we had had an exercise based on a fish design that I had not done. I wasn't all that worried about it, I had done pretty much everything else and didn't think it would matter. But I had got myself all organised earlier in the week, so decided to have a go anyway.

I recently bought a gorgeous scarf from Stonehouse, in Warrandyte.  It is by Michelle Mischkulnig.

I thought I would have a go at a small sample using what I could see of her technique - using supplies that I had to hand.

First I found a small silk hankie (I think that is what it is called). I was already dyed blue, so that seemed appropriate for a fish image. I teased out a couple of layers of silk and then placed a piece of sari silk that I also had. As the lesson was also about warm and cool colours, I chose a piece of sari silk that I thought would suit.

I laid out the sari silk on one layer of silk the covered it with another. Then I sandwiched this between a piece of soluble fabric and solve (transparent soluble film). I didn't bother to pin it as it was a small piece.

I hooped it up and sewed a pattern all the way across, based on a wave - also based on a handwriting fluency patters of joining the letter c.

The I did a mildly wavy line in the 90 degree direction, to hold the whole piece together.

I then did some continuous patterning over the sari silk to give the piece a bit more texture.
I used up some spare thread I had on bobbins, making the top and bottom colours different.

After dissolving the soluble fabric and film, I laid it out to dry, no stretching necessary.
It is a flimsy piece, not particularly useful or beautiful, but I have had a go at the technique and think that I could work a lot more with it and produce something that I liked.

And now I have done all the exercises for the course - I hope.