Sunday, December 02, 2007


at last a working camera! although it does seems to be a bit capricious on the subject of batteries and keeps insisting that said batteries need replacing.

here is a bit of a catch up on stuff i have been making over the last few weeks: first is my favourite piece from last weekend's efforts.
this started as an experiment on lutradur to see what my new sienna paint looked like. then i swirled some expanding paint (i followed the instructions which was a mistake - it said to paint it on, let dry and then add colour - as you can see that didn't work well at all so next time i will try mixing the colour into the paint) and did a bit more painting with some sepia ink, accidentally splashed some violet on the bottom and did a a couple of washes of sepia ink in places and reddish orange in others. then zapped it with the heat gun (and a bit of copper embossing powder). it reminds me of the caterpillar dreaming stories around alice springs.
next is a piece of silk dyed with turquoise sun dye paint, folded and sprinkled with some coarse cooking salt. it will form part of the ophelia stream of my alice springs series of quilts.

which leads me to this:
the photos is a bit flash heavy but it's hard to photograph metallic ribbon! this was done using dijanne's technique (also seen on annabel's website) of sewing strips of ribbon onto a foundation piece then cutting 45 degree squares. it's covered in black tulle and burnt organza and there are a couple of pieces of green bubble wrap in there too. more embroidery to come...

here's a detail

setacolour on silk painted over large bubble wrap and sprinkled wiht salt:
i loved the way the colour pools and the salt leaches some of it away. great fun and all done on the kitchen table!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

fabric painting

ok i have just given up trying to upload photos for now :(

last weekend i had a play with some fabric paints on cotton and silk using salt (sprinkled over the top) and bubble wrap (underneath) to get different effects - the bubble wrap had big bubbles and left sweeps of colour where the paint pooled. the salt added a mottled, almost littoral effect.

i went over a previously painted piece with some copper coloured gutta

i had a long awaited play with some foils - using glue as the fixing agent. next weekend is child free so i am planning some more foiling using what i hope with be fusible thread and some vliesofix.

will try uploading photos later (and a bit more coherent text - i am being nagged by 3 year old w who has begun to channel the taliban, especially in matters of underwear. anything not demurely maternal is met with shrikes of 'no you can't wear that! take it off!' it's like having a fundamentalist husband.......)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

there has been a lot of Life chez seahorse lately so not very much time for creativity. but i have started an alice springs series - 3 slightly larger than a3 quilts that are in various stages of germination.

and i bought this beautifully sculptural artichoke at psarakos market yesterday - here it is in the late afternoon light

Sunday, September 16, 2007

another sunday, anther burnt quilt...

sorry for the quality of the photos - still using the phone... this effort is another burnt quilt - this time i used big swathes of fabric instead of little chopped up bits, then the organza layer, free motion quilting and zappo... the other difference is that i used lutradur as a base - i painted it with purple and black fabric paint and let the blowtorch zap holes in some parts.

i quilted circles and spirals in the middle and then a mix of fronds and claws across the rest of it. the colours are more intense in real life and the shiny, melted synthetic was reflecting like mad.

it was great fun :)

Monday, September 03, 2007

burnt quilt

here is the small burnt quilt i made yesterday - it's closer to A3 than A4. The base is a piece of old felted jumper with layers of synthetic, ribbon and sequin waste, covered in 2 layers of organza (a deep rose pink and then black) free motion quilted and then attacked zealously with a blowtorch. the photos are a bit blurry i'm afraid as they were taken with my phone and i haven't mastered the focussing bit but they give the general impression

and here is the painted lutradur - i think i will give it a wash of deeper purple with some undertones of black - the plan at the moment is to use the lutradur as a backing although i think it will need something else as well to add body

Sunday, September 02, 2007

actual creative content....

but alas photos are still in my phone (and they won't be very good)

i am just starting to create again - the last few weeks have seen some tentative steps back to that headspace (hallelujah!)

today i made my first burnt quilt for months - the inspiration struck as i was driving along so had to quickly pull over and make some rough sketches. i had forgotten where my burning fabrics were so it took some rooting around and brain racking before i remembered that i had put them neatly away in a box under my bed. i could last remember seeing them shoved in a shopping bag behind the sofa......

last week i had a go at making annabelle's mosaic-looking squares. this method is a variation on one taught by dijanne cevaal and is absolute magic. you sew strips of fabric or ribbon or whatever onto a foundation and then cut 45 degree squares - which is where i came undone as maths has never been my strong point and the 2 inch squares i thought i was making turned out to all be 1 and s small something.. which was ok from a construction point of view as it doesn't matter how big the pieces are as long as they are all the same size. but i was completely mystified by the mistake and couldn't work out how on earth it had happened until a friend took me aside and explained Pythagoras' theorum to me in words of one syllable and with pencil and paper.

i had a lovely time buying ribbons in reds, purples and oranges and alternated them with strips of red japanese silk. i sewed them onto a foundation of stiff interfacing painted purple. and it is now in the marinating awaiting further inspiration stage.

i also finished the random kimono quilt - well finished enough to use - i'm still not sure if and how to bind it as it is bumpy around the edges. jumping in and just sewing is all very well but it makes the finishing a lot harder :) i ended up machining a herringbone stitch in red thread just along the seam lines and because i had just thrown it together there were quite a few seams with many layers of fabric. so i broke quite a few needles and i don't think my machine has quite forgiven me.

photos when i download the phone - possibly tomorrow

Saturday, August 11, 2007

can you tell

i don't have another adult to talk to? except you guys.

i'm off for a bath - which is exciting and ground breaking on a number of fronts. first w is asleep and therefore won't insist on joining me in the bath; second a bath is a real looxury now as we are in the middle of a dearth of water. even though it did start to rain again a couple of months ago and indeed is pouring down outside now, we have Not Much Water.

to celebrate i am using the last dregs of my crabtree and evelyn lily of the valley bubble bath. this is the closest mimic to my all time favourite perfume diorissimo, which i wear every day although stocks of diorissimo are getting to the perilous stage. so bad in fact that i have less percentage of diorissimo than melbourne has water in its dams. luckily it's my birthday soon and if some kind person doesn't buy me some diorissimo i will buy it for myself :)


the lovely susan has nominated me for a nice matters blog award. created by bella enchanted , the awards are given to "those that are just nice people , good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world".

i was brought up to be a naice girl and it has become somewhat disparaged as a personal quality. it has been been bleached of any colour and not valued for the warmth and affection that it should spring from. time to restore the niceness to nice, i say

the idea is that you nominate another seven people so i nominate (and i have decided that you can nominate people already nominated):

all warm, kind, sharing people and all very naice

bob, not bob and cousin boneless aka the thornbury sub branch of the cwa

are the names of our 3 chooks. a was all for calling the three of them bob, then e said 'mine's not bob' and thus the first two were named. and cousin boneless is named after the character in the cow and chicken cartoon.

they lay 3 eggs a day (although sometimes they take sundays off, leading me to suspect presbyterian antecedents), boss the cats around and generally patrol the back yard. they have a desperate curiosity to explore the laundry (which, in true inner Melbourne style, is outside) and will hip and shoulder you to get through the door as you're struggling with a basket full of washing) after i've shooed them out again i can see at least one scaly foot poking under the door and an array of beady eyes keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

i was surprised at what companionable animals they are and they remind me of the stereotypical busty and respectable cwa ladies that are the backbone of the nation. my girls look like they were born to wear aprons and make scones. they are also keen to come into the house and no doubt would put the kettle on as soon as they got in.

creative content will appear again soon - last weekend i had some fun with fabric and paint trying to capture some of the amazing colours i saw in central australia and started a small quilt. it felt wonderful being back in the creative zone and i will try and make some more time tomorrow, small people allowing.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

a different kind of normal

i was just sending a very tardy to reply to an email i received in the middle of the turmoil when i realised that we are starting to find a different kind of normal.

this weekend is the first access weekend so all 3 kids are with m. and i have made sure i keep busy - no maudlin drooping about the house, i was up and at 'em yesterday. i bought some divinely sleek new cotton sateen sheets that were half price (and therefore begging to come home wiht me) as was a deep aubergine valance for the bed. the bedroom now looks instantly neater as you can't see the legions of crap under the bed :)

i bought a huge box of fruit 'n' veg - lovely tight cauliflower, broccoli ($7 a kilo - eek!) and the usual array of everyday stuff including a 5kg bag of potatoes. and bananas are now expensive again although now as astronomical as last year during the post cyclone larry great banana south sea bubble when a mars bar was cheaper than a banana......

then i hied myself off to spotlight and bought some fabric paint and 2 m of white homespun. it's been so long since i did anything creative but now there is a line of fabric pieces drying on the washing line in lovely desert colours. i'm going to try and make a small desert quilt this afternoon.

oh and textile seahorse might be a bit light on for photos for the next few weeks - a bad combination of slow internet connection and toddler dropping camera - with deleterious effects on said camera.

will report back later on the desert quilt. and thanks so much for all the comments being so supportive on the Recent Crisis - it means a lot :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Min the Sinless

this lovely girl came to live with us a few weeks ago - i found her while surfing the local cat welfare shelters and was actually looking for a black cat, but almost fell off my chair when i found a burmese :)

she was named cinnamon by the shelter but her full baptismal name is now minerva, or min the sinless (with a nod to her former temporary name). she's a lovely cuddle puss, leavened with a good dash of burmese brutality - if you get above yourself she will give you a bite (not malicious but definitely firm)

and some other additions chez seahorse during the great blogging drought are the thornbury sub branch of the cwa - also known as bob, not bob and cousin boneless. 3 very matronly and productive isa brown chooks

Sunday, July 29, 2007

the amazing rocks of ellery creek bighole - about 90 kms west of alice springs.

i felt a deep but elusive connection to the country around alice. i puzzled over it for a day or two and strained to work out what i was feeling.

i wrote this on thursday night:

"there is something so compelling and mystical about this place - i feel drawn, mesmerised by the rocks and red dust - i want to sink into it and lose myself in its red antiquity.

i long to take off into the desert and feel annihilated by the space, clear air and luminosity. i begin to understand the desert fathers. i think you could spend your life wandering, yearning, searching for the spirit of this place.

although i am a whitefella i can feel that there is another way of reading this landscape but it is out of my reach. whitefella maps and language and way of understanding the world are pitifully insufficient to grasp the spirituality of this landscape that quivers massively, just out of our reach.

like an unlettered animal we can intuit a skeleton of meaning and realise that there is a body of symbolism and that the earth is alive in a completely different way, but it is not ours. and i think this leaves the whitefella with a profound grief - so profound that he cannot grasp this either and is left bemused and pained by something he can't understand.

the red earth, the convulsed rocks reach out, yearning for connection. the whitefella can dimly feel and reflect the yearning but cannot work out how to connect, how to be with the earth and is condemned to bereftness."

on a happier note....

i just spent four days in alice springs for an indigenous service delivery and community engagement conference. it was my first trip to central australia and i can't wait to go back. this is a very photo heavy post so i will do words separately - but the light and colours were amazing and i feel much restored :)

the view from the plane coming into alice springs:

sunset from anzac hill in the middle of alice springs:

the road west -

ellery creek bighole - a freezing cold water hole in a cleft of the mcdonnell ranges about 90 kms west of alice springs

Sunday, July 15, 2007


i have put off writing this post for a long time. my blog is not supposed to be personal, you see - it's supposed to be a sort of craft journal. but there hasn't been any real crafting for a long time and my creative spark seems to have gone out.

this has been the hardest 8 months of my life, culminating in my husband of 17 years, partner of 20 years, father of my 3 beautiful children and my best friend moving out last weekend. to live with someone else. we are still friends, we still care for each other and i think in the long run it will be for the best. but it hurts.

i was sort of ok during the week - things weren't much different. he was here taking care of the 2 older kids during the school holidays for a couple of days; it was a bit like when he went away for uni or work.

but this weekend has been hellishly lonely and i feel so sad and i can't imagine that it will be any better.

and this is why i wanted my blog to be not about me - because i don't want to cry into the keyboard. but there's no one else to talk to.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

random kimono quilt

one quilt top made of randomly pieced chunks of vintage kimono fabric. the centre panel is the only part of the quilt that i put together carefully - it has my favorite kimono chunk in it - almost looks like gum blossom

i had hoped to show you something a bit further on as i pieced the back from 14 inch strips of scarlet silk today but my batting was a foot too narrow :(

sorry the quilt top isn't ironed and was hastily thrown over the bed to catch a brief moment of sunshine - at the moment the sun is only shining on weekdays here in melbourne :) and yes that is maisy mouse tucked in at the head of the bed - 2 year old W shares our bed and maisy is his constant companion.

Friday, April 20, 2007

comments anyone?

is anyone else in blogger land having problems with comments? my last post remained tight-lipped and wouldn't let anyone leave a comment :(

and it's so encouraging to get comments on your posts - helps to keep the momentum going.

i will post a photo on the weekend of my current wips (and if anyone wishes to mention the legions of other wips that are languishing chez seahorse, they can hush their mouths). i bought a kimono pack from purl's palace in daylesford while i was spending a lovely respite weekend with the sweet and generous susan. the pack of large vintage kimono scraps is now a randomly pieced quilt top so randomly in fact that there is nary a straight seam in the whole thing...

Monday, April 16, 2007

thanks to everyone who sent supportive and encouraging comments and emails - i really appreciate it.

and there is some creative spark still around - here are some of the results of a fabbo weekend with Susan.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

nothing to see

having a bit of a life crisis here chez seahorse so there has been no creativity at all.

hopefully the creative spirit will return soon

until then it's probably best if you move along as there really is nothing to see here

Monday, March 26, 2007

PLS week 5

here is my week 5 effort - amazing piece of sequinned bling from trimmings and remnants in coburg, couched with gold thread using herringbone stitch onto hand dyed wool felt. the explosion underneath is mainly standard dmc embroidery floss, scarlet rayon and crimson silk. the felt in real life is a more vibrant greeny blue rather than the straight blue it is here.

and this amazing alien head is a seed from a cypress tree in the fitzroy gardens. don't know what i'm going to do with it but doesn't it look bizarre?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

new blogger and PLS Week 4

hmmmm, not sure about being forced to go to the new blogger having resisted various blandishments for months. sniffing around the new parameters.....

for what it's worth here is my piece for week four of personal library of stitches (apologies for the quality of the photos - the light was fading. the lighter photo is more true to colour)

it is a piece of the original dublin linen whose whiteness i found so overwhelming - it was dyed with blue and rose pink food colouring, rolled in bubblewrap and left in the autumn sun for a day. after reading the lesson and this article on the British artist Gitl Wallerstein-Braun (who does beautifully lyrical folded pieces) i decided to go with the folds in the fabric and see where the stitching lead me. last week i did a similar thing with the silk paper following the natural contours of the piece.

i don't think i ever "got" this piece - it doesn't seem to have a focus or movement - it's quite diffuse. but given the complexities of my life at the moment i decided to go with what was evolving on the fabric and not stress too much about creating something marvellous. instead i had fun with the stitching (learning some new stitches - feathered chain, buttonhole bar - which is a great alternative to bullion stitch), whipped herringbone and a kind of detached chain/fly stitch hybrid that i decided to retrieve from being a mistake and enjoy the effect.

i used perle 5 cotton, cotton embroidery floss, silk ribbon, silk floss (indian splendour again - i just love that thread) and some rachelette that i got from joggles this week (amazing service - it arrived from the States within a week of my order)

the two things that struck me this week were:
  1. the use of space is as important as the use of thread
  2. the treatment or disposition of the fabric (ie pleats, folds etc) can (should?) dictate the stitch

Monday, March 12, 2007

PLS Week 3

this week was about exploring line - i used some luscious hand dyed wool felt and played with some of the stitches from last week as well. i used a beautifully soft silk from the thread studio in the indian splendour colour and tried it in different weights ie number of strands and different stitches.

i started with the felt circle and embroidered a red glass bead using spider web stitch (so well that you can't actually see the bead anymore!) i found it hard to maintain the tension with this stitch and would like to do some more practice. then i appliqued the circle to the base felt with fly stitch. i had fun with the interlacing on the right - that's handspun yarn woven through three rows of running stitch in indian splendour with 2 strands, then row 2 is more thread studio hand dyed - this time silk ribbon in garnet. it was my first time using silk ribbon and it went through the felt like butter - just gorgeous to work with. then a line of fly stitch this time with more strands of indian splendour (can't remember how many - at least 4, then i changed down to 2 to finish the line). it struck me what a difference the interlacing made to the first line - it immediately added more curves and made a gradual curve into a bumpy one.

it was surprisingly difficult to do fly stitches in a curve - i could practically feel the g forces as i steered the thread into the bends. and the weight of the thread didn't make much of a difference

exhibit b is the first piece of silk paper i made a month or so ago. i just decided to follow the natural contours of the paper with layers of fine stitching - running, detached chain, detached fly and little feather. and there's even a small bit of interlacing

so far i have used rayon, cotton and silk and found that the cotton went through the silk paper smoothly and with less tangles than the other two.

one of the issues we were think about this lesson is the differences between line in the natural and the built environments. i may be wrong but line in the natural environment never seems to be completely straight - there's always a curve or unevenness in there somewhere and they tend to follow the path of least resistance.

i thought about this as i stitched and just let my fingers feel where to go rather than making decisions before i stitched. it's a very soothing piece to stitch.