Glue Resist, Museums, Bagley, Dyeing.

Eventually I found this little museum just around the corner from me.  It is a collection of buildings including a replica of one of the first houses built in the area.  The site includes 3 original graves and proof of long ago aboriginal visitation, also some coastal rainforest and a sub-tropical cottage garden.  This museum is run by a volunteer organisation called the Gold Coast and Hinterland Historical Society.  The entire committee was there on the 6th of November  working, and they insisted I sit and have tea!.  They followed me around to make sure I was Ok or maybe to make sure I didn’t steal anything.  They were helpful and very chatty and generally made it difficult for me to draw.  Luckily there were only two other visitors there that day.  It was extremely hot, there were few places to sit and draw and there was very little notation about things.  Consequently I only got a couple of pages drawn and I am not very happy with the results and haven’t submitted them yet.  I did manage to take a few photos.

This is part of a little table mat that was at the museum sitting on one of those twig hall tables.  It is sacking with cotton string and is supposed to be original from the 1860’s.  It does look a bit clean to be original but I thought it was interesting.

I have a new Application on my Mac called Turbo Collage.  It lets me put several photos together and add text.  I find it useful to add groups of things and to show progressions.  This is of a glue resist experiment.  I used Elmers Blue Gel glue as the resist and then soaked it in Soda Ash and painted Procion MX dyes with a brush.  Then I added more doodles with the Sharpie Pen after rinsing and washing.  This is my fern frond which I have shown before in a sketch book in an earlier post.  Really I have been drawing this fern frond since I was a child in New Zealand.

Here is a doodle also dyed using a brush with unthickened Procion dyes.  I have redoodled over some of the piece loosely.  Next time I will try painting with thickened dyes.  I think I like the black and white doodles best.

Since I had some dyes made up and Laura Kemshall had just presented a video on dyeing on DMTV I decided to do some simple pieces using her methods.  These are the results and I am quite pleased with them, they will be useful.  I also dyed some more threads to finish off the quilt from the same TV programme using the 2 metre piece of fabric and the rail fence block.

Finally here is the finished quilt.  There is some machine quilting and quite a lot of hand quilting, all practising my seed stitch – I am still not great at random – The hand quilting caused my hands quite a few problems and eventually I realised that I had used the wrong batting to pull perle cottons through by hand.  Its all a learning curve!

Finally, here is a photo of Bagley in my friends garden.  Her lovely husband had taught him how to dig a hole. In actual fact he is much dirtier than this photo shows.  My friend also has a Westie who is female and nearly one year old.  They had a lovely day together and got into such a mess they were banished to the hot garden!  Bagley was a hot and exhausted puppy after that and spent the next 24 hours sleeping.  He can’t wait to get back to that garden and practise his hole digging!

I went with the Serendipity group to the GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to their “Threads” Exhibition.  It was very interesting, there were quilts and textiles from the Asia Pacific region.  All of the quilts and textiles are actually owned by the Queensland Museum, Queensland Gallery or the GoMA.  If you like textiles its well worth a visit.  I took this photo because it was amazingly hand stitched in the English Piecing style using half inch squares! I have another friend who is doing a postage stamp type quilt on one inch papers, it is going to be magnificent.

Finally, my very un-scientific 6 month light-fastness test on the copper dyed fabric is finished.  there was very little fade.  I don’t have a good photo yet and still have some tests to do – sewing etc using the fabric.



Old Quilts, Doodles, Results.

This is a quilt that I started in about 2003 and completed in early 2005.  I may have put it on this blog before and if I have I apologise.  Its the summer quilt for our bed and it’s nearly time to put it on again.  Half of the silk was garnered from decorator fabric samples, some I bought, and some was brought back for me, by my daughter, from Vietnam.  It is a bit faded now and looking a bit older from wear and tear, it has a hard life on our bed, what with dogs and kids and whatnot.  However it still looks good and I love it.  Silk frays and sheds even if you just think about looking at it, and even if you use a walking foot it likes to travel but I still would like to make another silk quilt.

Here are two of the three Sharpie doodles I have done over the last few days.  Both of these are on fabric.  I am addicted to this now and I have done a third doodle on previously soda soaked fabric and I am going to try dye painting with it.  This was our homework for ‘Serendipity’, we got the idea from the book “Sew Wild” by Alisa Burke.  Next I am going to try a text doodle!

Last week we had the pleasure of being shown around a beautiful garden in the very West of Brisbane, the roses were magnificent and there were lots of lovely other flowers which I also took photos of but I just love this one.  The garden was mulched with barley straw and here is a barley ear fully grown so really a weed!  One day I am definitely going to do something with all of my texture photos!

These blocks are rail fence blocks for my ‘Sisters” Tuesday project.  Only three of us are doing the project but we are all very pleased and I hope to show you the results in the next blog.  I put this photo in because it had the weird insect on it.  In the past I would have shooed the insect away, now I quietly get my phone to take a picture and get quite close up.  At the time I was laying out my blocks sorting out the order of things!

Here is one of my last Activities for my City and Guilds course Module 1.  I now have Module 2 which requires that I visit a museum, I need a reasonable sized museum with OLD things that are beyond copyright, also a museum that will allow me to take photos.  For example the V&A or the British Museum in London, or the Auckland Museum.  The Queensland museum in Brisbane would do, but no!  Its closed until January!  What museum closes it’s doors?  What about school visits?  Google gave me a couple of other local museums, a war museum in Mudgeeraba with tanks and arms, yuck, a maritime museum at Southbank, a wax museum in Surfers Paradise.  None of these appeals really but I will try the Maritime and until I do this I can’t move on with the course.  I feel like I live in some sort of cultural wasteland.  This isn’t true, we have an Arts Centre and galleries, playhouses, theatres.

Bagley at Obedience School. The photo is very dark because there was a raging thunder storm going on around us.  We are under a shelter carrying on with the school!  As you can see, he is very good at sitting now.


“Kitchen Plastic Shibori”, Creative Quiltmaking, Ancient Carvings!

These three photos are before during and after, using the whole of the top of the milk bottle.  I cut the plastic  quite close to the neck so that you can still screw the lid on over the fabric.  This is an idea I got from Janice Gunner, I only had enough caps to do half of the piece of fabric.  It is dyed with procion mx dyes from Dharma Trading in the US, using Bright Orange and Burnt Orange.  The dye concentrates have been in my frig since April 13 which makes it about as long as they are safe to use.  I think the worst thing that will happen is that they will not be very light fast – too bad, I have had commercial fabric fade in a matter of months as well.

Here is another set using long freezer clips.  You can get them from supermarkets!  The colours are Imperial Purple and Blue Violet.

This final 3 are done with cheap plastic pegs.  I don’t think that they were strong enough and I am now looking for some of those wind proof pegs.  I think these colours are blue and brown.

I call these “Kitchen plastic Shibori”.  They are all ideas from Janice Gunner and easy and fun to try.  I think some of them might work better in an Indigo Vat because it works a little differently to Procion.  Indigo seems to attach to the outside of the cell, where Procion goes right in and makes changes in the cell.

These two photos are from My DM Creative Quiltmaking course photographs.  The first exercise has been to find a collection of objects, which will later be used quite a lot for inspiration.  I chose the old Optrex bottle because Optrex is supposed to make you see more clearly.  The glass is one of Mum’s sherry glasses.  The rubber duck is to remind me of Sophie.  The Christmas decoration is my something red and something shiny.  The seed pod I found a while ago and is from the Gold Coast.  I am not sure what plant it comes from.  I have discarded the round basket in favour of the simpler  square box, however I am going to add the patterned shell.  The next few stages involve sketchbooks and drawing – deep breath!!

The Star fish are in a shallow pool in Shark Bay at Sea World on the Gold Coast  I had to wait for a long time to get this photo while children came and went and cast shadows and touched the starfish.  We were visiting Sea World with the Whirlwind while she was here!  They are in about 10″ of water!

We thought Sea World was extremely expensive to enter and also expensive to be there, food etc is mediocre at best and as a captive audience  you are stung badly in the wallet.  I also had the WORST cup of coffee of my life there!  Having said all of that we had a lovely day and the displays are wonderfully done.  I could watch the polar bears and the penguins all day and Shark Bay was fantastic.

This carved stone is in The Cathedral in Chester.  The Cathedral was built on the site of an ancient Abbey hundreds of years ago.  This stone was saved from the ruins of the Abbey when the cathedral was built.  It takes my breath away when I see this sort of detail that is so old.  I wish we had such great artisans more prevalent these days!

London and the Whirlwind.

Three and a half weeks ago I flew into London to visit my grandaughter – henceforth known as “the whirlwind”.

Silly me, I had forgotten about two year olds and their constant activity, I thought I could sew, sketch, draw, paint, stitch, write, blog, get places quickly.  But sadly no!

This is a blurry picture of the whirlwind, not that it is easy to get her to stand still long enough to take an un-blurry picture.  Here we are getting ready to go for a walk, I made the bag, under instructions, for her last year and it still goes nearly everywhere.

This tangle of trunks is a secret place in the garden that the whirlwind has been going to on Wednesdays for noisy activity and socialisation!  Texturally I thought it was lovely.  Overhead it is a mass of green leaves and mauve rhododendron flowers!

When I was a child, my maternal grandparents had a picture almost exactly like this in their large, book lined hall.  Then, I thought it was quite dreary.  I thought this photo, that I had taken, was glorious, it had been raining and it really looked as though Nelson had commanded a break in the clouds.  The photo is taken from the steps of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.  I loved the gallery, it is inspiring to sit in front of Leonardo’s “Madonna on the Rocks” – an unfinished work!  Especially knowing that it is over 500 years old and the original.

These are some rusty metal shapes that I picked up in ‘Liberty’ of all places.  They are flat and I am hoping to get some nice rusty imprints from them when I get home.  The paper underneath is some anaglypta I managed to get for free, as a sample.  We can use it for texture on fabric with dyes or paint,  it would also be a great quilting design.

Spring is such a lovely time to visit England, everyone has a little bit of cottage garden somewhere around their house, some times is is just in a pot.  This is an aquilegia, we grew them in our tiny garden in Auckland but not this colourful or perfect.  As per usual I have taken lots of photos of flowers and also some moss and lichen and doors, and of course many of “the whirlwind”!

Last weekend was Person’s first in England so to keep him awake we took him to some National Trust Sites for a bit of fresh air body clock adjusting.  One of these was Batemans, which was the English home of Rudyard Kipling, and the other was Scotney Castle.

Old Scotney Castle - the ruin!

Quilt close-ups, Old men and their birthdays, May flowering Trees.

This is a collection of close-ups I have taken over the last few years of quilts that intrigued me for some reason.  If you see your quilt here, I hope you feel honoured because I have been to quilt shows where I have not taken one photo.  I have also been to shows where I have felt that it was time for me to hang up my needle!  Shows where I have decided to start collecting BAD quilt photos.  These are not politically correct things to say, but sometimes there just is not any thing positive to say about a quilt!  This is where properly curated quilt shows are required, so that some one less harsh than me can gently let the maker know that her quilt does not meet the required standards.  In many cases, its just a matter of the ‘being self taught’ thing just not working and some serious quilt making lessons are required.

My father is 92 today, he is in hospital and does not really feel well enough for partying, but mentally he is sharp as a tack. Having him in hospital is a good opportunity for me to do some unsupervised cleaning and organising at his place, hence the lateness of the blog and the lack of experimentation.  He should be home again soon.

Pindara, the hospital Dad is in, is having a revamp. This is a window insert in one of the hallways that has been added to get to one place from another without having to go through wards.  There are several of these windows along the hall making it bright and fresh.

This is a small tree which is in flower at the moment here on the Gold Coast.  It starts with these chartreuse pin cushion flowers then the flowers turn into clumps of berries in the same colour which then become purple empty seed pods.  I have no idea what sort of tree this is, if any one can tell me I would love to know.

Challenge quilts, Dyeing with copper experiments, Flowering trees, Altered Books.

Nearly finished quilting!

This photo is a small part of my Jems Quiltsitters challenge quilt.  I have nearly finished quilting this on my machine.  I never really like my own quilting and have all sorts of problems trying not to be jerky and keeping my stitches even.  I have to have it finished before May because I will be away for 6 weeks and when I get back it will be nearly time for the Jems Quilt show which will be at the Brookfield Hall on the weekend of July 23rd.  I will put in exact dates later.

final colour of copper solution for dyeing

Yesterday was the day for the copper dyeing trials.  I have written vast quantities of notes and have lots of ‘what if’ ideas.  Basically it did not matter how long the fabric was soaked for, so long as it was swished around and thoroughly wet it seemed to take the colour.  There was no colour in the rinse water and the fabric was softer after rinsing.  It seemed that  the fabric used up the colour and the solution got progressively weaker.  The linen dyed a beautiful shade very similar to a proper English Robin egg blue, but the wool and silk died a dark grey.  All of  the cotton dyed a lovely aqua colour.

Copper dyeing.

On doing a bit more research I have discovered that the pH of ammonia is around 11.3, which is also the pH of a strong Soda Ash solution.  So I thought I might try soaking the copper in some soda ash to see if it gave colour.  I also wondered if adding more copper would make a stronger, or darker colour.  Does anyone have any old copper bits they want to donate to me?   The ammonia is not toxic and can be added to your garden but it does burn your nasal passages a bit.  My mother used it as a household cleaner, and we always had to soak the hairbrushes and combs in it every week.  I don’t know why, and so have discontinued this tradition.  Maybe this is why there is such a huge outbreak of head-lice these days.  Maybe we need to soak our grooming tools in cloudy ammonia once a week.

Spathodea Campanulata

This is also known as an African Tulip tree.   This particular specimen I noticed while waiting at some lights on a rainy day in Burleigh, iphones are so handy!  These trees have been flowering in March as well but I did not know what they were called then, not even it’s  common name.  I have a book by India Flint called ‘Eco dyeing’  It is a lovely book but not really well laid out as far as recipes go.  India lost me when she mentioned that you should really know the correct botanical name of the plants you were using.  There are over 248 species of gum trees!  all of them begin with Eucalypt…….  However something must have rubbed off because since then I have tried to learn the correct names of trees.  India has a lovely blog, there is a link at the side of my blog.

another nearly complete page in my altered book.

Yes, I am still doing my altered book, I have about 6 or 7 pages completed now.  Of course as I get on I am improving with techniques etc.  and so I am tempted to paint over and redo things all of the time!

Nearly a little purse!

That yellow and orange flower looks like a poached egg!  This is nearly ready to be made into a little purse to keep sewing things in.  It has thousands of beads on it! Well hundreds anyway. The background is dyed batting and the flowers and leaves are wool or batting.  I attached them with my embellishing machine.

Bauhinea branch

This tree is outside Dad’s unit.  I thought the leaves looked like butterflies.  The tree is not flowering right now, but it does flower!


Earthquakes,Pumice, Dolly quilts, Art pins & challenges.

It has been a hectic week with such a lot of time spent watching as the Earthquake disaster in Christchurch as it unfolded.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those still missing.

Consequently there has not been a lot of experimentation going on, however some productivity still.  This little quilt is a dolly quilt made from a large set of Silk samples given to me by  Lisa from “Lisa’s Fabrics” at The Brickworks.  I used the quilt to practice a quilting technique I learned on one of the DMTV Programmes.  Of course the Quilt is for Sophie and will accompany me to England in May.

This is a piece of pumice, it is from the area of New Zealand that is more likely to have volcanic activity and could have been spewed out of  any one of the three volcanoes in the area at any time in the last billion or so years.  You find pieces of pumice like this all over this area, floating on the lake in the fields, at the side of the road.  This particular piece has come via my friend, and is destined to some majestic future with the CSIRO in Brisbane, where my daughter works.  I thought that it was particularly applicable as a texture piece considering the news from NZ of late.

I was googling something the other day and saw a reference to Art Pins, the reference was to the sort that are metal and have pins on the back that you can use to attach the thing to your hat, jumper, bag etc.  But my brain, working in full gear as it does, thought – Drawing pins! or press pins or what ever you call those pins that attach bits of paper to cork boards.  And so I made some, a whole lot actually, and even some with magnets on the back.  I used heavy cardboard and painted it with Lumiere paints then attached lots of different coloured beaded lace which I also got from Lisa when she was getting rid of her old samples.  So these will also go into my Etsy shop when I get enough stock to actually open it.

My Tuesday sewing group is having a monthly 9″ x 12″ creativity challenge this year.  This is the first piece.  There will be a recipe for the piece each month.  The February recipe was: a saying – Birds of a feather flock together.  Colour – any blue except aqua or indigo.  Technique – to use a piece of fabric somewhere on the front that you would not normally use on a quilt (mine is the half feathers which are painted vliesofix)  We were also to use some free motion quilting and a different form of binding.  My feathers were raw edge appliqueed using free motion quilting and I have mounted the piece onto a canvas frame to be hung on the wall.

Next week I hope to have done some more experimentation.  I  have managed to find some Elmers Glue so will continue with the glue as a resist trials.  Thats all for this week, here’s hoping for no more disasters!