Tuesday, February 28, 2012


this evening the family dinner was punctuated by cries of 'ow' and 'no' because we have been joined by two young gentlemen of a furry disposition.

nero and max (short for pont max, short for pontifex maximus, which we saw plastered over almost every building in rome) were rescue kitties, found at melbourne animal rescue.  they were being fostered by two of the kindest people i have ever met - kathy and wayne - who foster unwanted dogs and cats, treat them with love and respect and then hand them over to new families. it is a measure of how well kathy and wayne treat their animals that nero and max are completely relaxed, not shy or fearful at all.

in fact they have taken over the house in the 24 hours they have been here.
they are quite tricky to photograph as they move like small rockets
but they enjoyed the dishwasher long enough to get some unblurry shots

Sunday, February 26, 2012

nearly done

 my challenge piece 'lumen' is nearly finished.
although these photos look rather hectic, they're pretty close to the real colours.
lots of hand stitching and i think i can tell you that it's made of hand-dyed cotton (which was machine stitched before it was dyed), sari silk,  sinemay and sticks made of heavy cotton twine soaked in black gesso and paverpol. and hand stitched with silk and cotton threads. 

mainly sorbello stitch, french knot and a little running stitch.

and i guarantee it won't be what you expect. or even guess. Kind Dog can attest to that - this is completely different. Yes, Kathryn, we have Muse Rampant :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

the next challenge

the next challenge piece for the international quilt challenge group is due today.  which would be fine if i hadn't had the Muse wait until yesterday to strike with a usable idea.  i had plenty of different ideas that had no momentum at all or that sputtered out as soon as they burst into my mind.

fortunately the Muse handed me a corker of an idea yesterday - although it doesn't meet the formal requirement of the challenge of being a two dimensional, A3, stitched piece. although it is made of textiles and it is stitched.

here is an early sniff

i am putting the skills i learned from Karen's class to good, if unorthodox use.

(edited to insert better photos)

speaking to the geelong quilters

last saturday i spent a lovely, if nerve-wracking, few hours with the Geelong Patchwork and Quilters guild. My friend and mentor, Dijanne Cevaal asked me if i could come and speak at the guild's first meeting for 2012 about what i do to fabric and fibres.

This seemed a fine if rather scary prospect and, with Kind Dog's help and tech support, I did a powerpoint presentation, organised a slideshow of my work for my ipad and gathered up some examples of my work for people to see in the flesh. 

there was a moment of consternation when about 5 minutes away from the venue and showtime, Kind Dog realised that the connector cable had been left behind. So while he zoomed off in search of an Apple connector cable merchant, I went in.

and found what seemed like 600 million quilting ladies all stitching away on heirloom quality quilts. to me they seemed to personify the Quilt Police and i thought i would be met with stony silence and then shredded.

diajnne assured me that i would be safe and that no one would bite me so i relaxed a bit.

until i found out that there was no access to the electronics and the powerpoint option was kaputsky.  whereupon my knees and brain and confidence sagged and i felt like fleeing the room, while kicking myself for not double-checking....

but then i was introduced to some of the fierce quilters who turned out to be just lovely and kind and very reassuring since i clearly looked terrified.

and Kind Dog turned up with a new connector cable and found out he was about to be pressed into service as an easel. luckily i had written notes (albeit spread across 3 notebooks - what was i thinking? hiding behind a powerpoint presentation was what i was thinking...)

and i just jumped in. here i am being introduced by dijanne..
 taking questions
and juggling the notebooks.
while i was speaking Kind Dog, Dijanne and Liana walked around the room showing people some of my work. These were some of the pieces i took:

 caput mortuum
 land, sea, alchemy
 talisman II
 burnt landscape
brave new world
my talk had 2 themes:
  • my work is based on traditional techniques. they may look different and use different materials but they are all stitched layers of fabric, using the same techniques that are used in traditional patchwork and quilting.
  • technical proficiency allows me to use the medium to express feeling, emotions and work through painful subjects
despite the nerves and technical hitches i had a lovely time and am very grateful that i was invited to speak and that the guild members were so welcoming and interested in my work.  And they paid me!! it was my first paid gig as a speaker about my textile work and that was a real thrill.

they even gave me a badge


hello? she said cautiously....
i have been trying to create a blog post since last sunday - obviously without success.
but now it seems that blogger will magnanimously allow me to have words and photos in the same post.

this is the first stage of an experiment in my sketch book using a technique i saw over on the sketchbook challenge blog - it uses gesso and sumi ink and was fun, if rather messy :)

i will return with a proper post about the lovely time i had with the geelong quilters' guild last weekend.

Monday, February 06, 2012

textile inspiration in rome

there were so many textures and textiles that inspired me in rome - here are a few..

a splendidly hatted horse outside the Pantheona rather spunky Amazon at the Colosseum
some truly amazing ruching on a papal frock in St Peter's
trompe l'oeil curtains in the vatican musem
 drapery fragments again in the vatican museum
and the most moving statue i have ever seen - st cecilia in trastevere

Sunday, February 05, 2012


i can report some progress on textile-related bizzo. i signed up for karen ruane's embroider, embellish, create class but have been a very bad pupil.

part fo the problem is that the class began on 9 january when we were still in rome so by the time we got home i was already a week behind. add jet lag, going back to work, school holidays and some full-bore melbourne summer weather and not much has been accomplished.

an added problem was one i hadn't anticipated - compete creative paralysis. i did karen's button class late last year and loved it. karen is an excellent teacher and with her i conquered my fear of french knots, mastered bullions and fell in love with white on white embroidery. but confronted with making a wrapping cloth i had trouble enough trying to choose which fabrics and vintage pieces to use and then completely overwhelmed by the acres of empty white space - the classic curse of the blank page.

so i watched to karen's class videos which are incredibly soothing and clear and watched with mounting guilt as my class mates posted ever more wonderful examples of embroidery and inspiration.
so this weekend i have made a concerted effort and may just finish one block before the class ends. and this leads to what i suspect is the real source of the embroiderer's block.
you may remember i started making little shrouds late last year a a way of starting to think about all the babies i miscarried. then i found some wonderful examples of embroidered swaddling cloths in the Victoria and Albert Museum. and i thought i would make a small swaddling cloth as part of karen's course. except i couldn't. for the same reason i couldn't visit the foundling museum in london - at the moment it's just too hard and clearly not the right time.

so the only way i could start on my class work was to think of it as a sampler for when i do make my swaddling cloth.
there's quite a way to go but the momentum is there now.

Friday, February 03, 2012

pat on back

i am not the most organised person and find process things rather stressful, so i am giving myself an elephant stamp for getting 2 pieces ready to ship up to Queensland for the Stanthorpe Art Festival. This was acheived with much less stress than usual as Kind Dog was an enormous help in working out how best to hang the pieces for an art festival rather than a quilt show and gave soothing advice about box sizes and couriers.

Desert Triptych
are going off for an all expenses paid trip to regional Queensland until the middle of April and will hopefully find new homes. The Stanthorpe Art Festival opens on Friday 24 February.