Purple, Sandra Meech workshop, Macbooks

The colour for this month’s 9 x 12 challenge with my Tuesday sewing group is purple.  Even though I had a bit of a say in the recipe for the challenges I still find there are colours which I find difficult to work with, purple is one of them. I thought making a collage with my purple textures might help all of us find some inspiration. You will notice there are some fruit and vegetables missing – aubergines, red cabbage, plums, dragon fruit, grapes, tamarillos (which make all fruit salads turn purple!). I looked around for some purple buildings but we are just not that architecturally colourful here.  I think the collage looks quite inviting, I hope you do too.

Sandra Meech

I was lucky enough to get a place in a two day workshop with Sandra Meech last week .  Here is a photo of her demonstrating. The workshop was entitled ‘Stitched Sketchbooks’ and we learned many skills during the class including how to ultimately find inspiration within the sketchbook to eventually make a quilt.  Sandra was a very giving, and gentle teacher and had all of us using artistic skills some of us didn’t know we had!

This is the sum total of the class works after two solid days!  Like many of our pieces many of these will take a long time to complete.

I have a new computer, it is a Macbook pro, so I have been madly trying to get all of my files transferred over as well as learn the new operating system.  Today I transferred all 5,000 odd photos!   I have to say it is all much simpler than I thought, and it is lovely to have a computer that feels as though it is on my side!.  My rule has been that Perse is not allowed to lay a finger on it so that I will learn.  In the past he has done everything and so I have not learned the procedure.  We have discovered that he finds it difficult to explain without actually pressing the keys!  However so far so good and I have had one group lesson at the Apple shop and have another one on one lesson booked for Wednesday.

This is the statue that serves as the memorial to Australian Vietnam Veterans.  It lives on the new foreshore right in Surfers Paradise.  I had an idea that it would be easier to draw a carved face than a real one.  Hmmm!  I will let you know!

The final photo is one from the collage.  I took it at my friend’s house last week and it is in this final position as an experiment.  Because of the way fb loads the text and photo!


Beaded Purses, the beach on Labour Day, The GOMA and cycads.

the purses, finally completed.

Here are the two purses finally completed and ready for sale.  I have been doing a lot of tidying, cleaning up, and finishing things off ready to go away.  There is still a lot to do plus kits to make up to take with me to complete while I am away.  This week I have the Sandra Meech class and I think I am ready to go to that, then right before I fly I have my sewing group retreat and there are a few things to get ready for that.  Today I used up the old dyes on paper using monoprints, the dyes are too old for fabric, they wont be light fast but they were fun to play with on paper and I had a really good play at the monoprinting  Next thing to do will be a Collagraph.  Maybe when I get back!

These two photos are the beach near our apartment.   I was playing with the ‘thirds’ rule, putting the horizon line in different spots.  We were walking back from a lovely lunch with friends at the Northcliff surf club.  How vivid is that blue in the sky?

Here is a screen print using the tree stencil that I have used in different ways before.  This time with dyes thickened with sodium alginate.  I quite like this piece and will probably call it finished but I do have lots of other pieces that are going to need more work.

Last week Perse and I went to the 21st century modern art exhibition at the GOMA.  This is one of the art pieces – a collection of painted vases, there is lots of deep thought and statement behind this work but I just like the colours!

This vase display was beautifully lit and the high lights formed these lovely shadows,  I also really liked the yellow with the blue vases.

These weird red seed pods (I think) are in a large cycad at our building.  I thought they looked quite lovely and will add them to my textures file.

Anzac Day, Screen Printing, first art work and blue flowers.

My maternal grandfather was at Gallipoli and survived to fight other WWI battles, then lived to be over 80.  My father served in WWII with the RAAF and RAF and is still alive and nearly 92.  Neither of them were big on marching at Anzac day parades.  Weird huh!  To all of my friends who have husbands, brother and sons still serving in hot spots throughout the world, this is your day as well.  You should know that this is not the only day I think about your loved ones away protecting our way of life.

I had a lovely day today.  These two photos are screen printing using paper shred as a resist.  I started this morning with a couple of monoprints on perspex using my rubber combs.  I have had these combs for years, I used to use them to make wood look like timber! using acrylic paint.  The monoprints were similar to the gelatin prints I did in January and February in result.  I have been putting off the whole screen printing thing for ages, mainly because I have never done it before or even seen it done in real life.  It was so much fun! I had a ball and have lots of ideas for new print stencils.  It takes me a while to set up and I have to be really organised to do it in the apartment, but great fun and well worth the effort.  I used procion mx dyes mixed into extra thick sodium alginate.

Yesterday we took dad down to Bangalow for lunch.  Never got there!  Too much traffic but made it into Byron Bay, also too much traffic but at least moving!   Then home via Murwillumbah, and the Numinbah Valley.  We stopped at a garden centre near Chillingham for afternoon tea and found some more nice flowers.  But still haven’t found a theme for my Sandra Meech class!

I like these blue flowers, I think I will start a collection of blues.  I did notice that on the Robina Parkway there were some of the African Tulip trees with yellow flowers as well as some with orange flowers.  But Perse was driving so no chance of stopping.

A friend asked me to see if I could dye Dr’s Flannel,  The dye has to be sort of mashed into the fabric but it turned out quite well.  I have also dyed some wool batting today to see how it turns out.

I tried making a copper solution with soda ash, and then with urea water.  There was not even the glimmer of a change, however I have added all of the extra copper to my original jar.  I tried dipping a piece of fabric that had been soaked in soda ash, dried and then pressed.  The solution was already the same colour, but the soda ash seemed to stop the copper colour from forming well so the sample was very pale.  I also splashed some of the solution onto a small piece which had been rust dyed and had tea spilled on.  The rust and tea made no change to the colour of the copper solution.

Although you can’t really see in the photo, the copper soln has made a nice blue in amongst the rust and tea dye and I might rust a piece of fabric especially for the copper solution.

This is the first drawing I have received from my granddaughter.   It is now framed and hanging on the wall!

Matza Tart, Fabric dyeing with sodium Alginate, The sand pumping Jetty.

Nearly Perfect! Yum!

After 31 years of trying, I think I have finally cracked it.  This is the best looking Matza Tart I Have made.  It is my m-i-l’s recipe and we have to have it to make Passover complete!  Of course the proof will be in the eating, and after the huge meal no one can eat much, so left overs for tomorrow I hope!

I have finished my Quiltsitters challenge quilt, just have to sew on the label.  After all of the angst, agony, teeth gnashing, block counting and other drama, I actually like it.  I can’t post a picture until after the quilt show in July!

Fun with dyes.

Last week I spent 3 days playing with sodium alginate and procion mx dyes. I used the sodium alginate as a thickener in different thicknesses, goopy, medium and slightly runny.  Added to the dyes, and applied to fabric which had been soaked in soda ash and then dried or just soaked in the soda ash and still wet.  Using the book by Ann Johnston, “Colour by Design”, I used rollers, sponges, needle nose bottles, foam brushes, large brushes, rubbing plates, stencils, stamps, masking tape and lots of colour!  It was tiring, and fun.  Over Easter I will be finally playing with mono-prints, thermofaxes, screen prints, stencils and more colour. These photos include some of the results.

This is a beautiful piece of fabric given to me by a friend, It is a very fine shirting or poplin and has the most beautiful drape.  The plaid is made with masking tape.  I have kept some of the masking tape and already put some of it into a page in my altered book.

This is one of the last pieces when I was using up some paint and in a hurry.  It was done very quickly, but proof to me that when you have drawn something often enough, or traced or stenciled or made stamps or all of these things in the end you just know it well enough to even attempt a freehand drawing.

When Q1 opened I went up to the top, mainly because I wont let my fear of heights stop me from going up every tower in every city.  On this occasion I took a photo, looking towards the apartment we now live in.  This is my interpretation of that photo.  There are some definite improvements in my technique that I need to make.

This was fun,  the plain alginate, with out colour, was painted onto the dry fabric first, then the picture sort of smooshed on, quite a bit of finger painting went on with this one.

On the weekend Perse and I went for a walk out along the sand pumping jetty.  He had never done this!  He took his camera and got some fabulous shots of seagulls in flight, landing and on the railing staring at us.  I took this one of the sea between waves,  It is a magnificent colour.  There were lots of fishermen there but didn’t see any fish being hauled out of the ocean!

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!


Creativity and Inspiration, Reverse Garbage and the Altered Book.

How beautiful is this moth?

My friend Lesley introduced me to the idea of following other quilters on facebook.  I am fairly selective about who I follow, but Lesley sends me ideas on a regular basis and one of them I took up.  This was Pam Holland.  If you click on the link it will take you to her blog where there is a lovely video of a quilt show by the Lake of the Woods Guild in Kenora, Canada. This is a lovely but isolated part of Canada.  The quilt show is amazing.   Although I miss a lot on fb mainly because I am not on it all day I think, I did happen to spot a comment from Pam where she was discussing Three books about creativity and Inspiration.  I have always been curious about where some of our artists and quilters get their inspiration and so I bought these three books as ebooks and have them on my phone to read as well as on my pc.  I had a mixed media art teacher in Sydney in the 90’s by the name of Barbara Dimitri who encouraged us to take lots of photos of things textural and so I have been doing this on and off for quite a few years now – hence the lovely photo of the moth!  Interestingly, this is one of the things that the inspirational quilters and artists I know of, all do, along with sketchbooks and journals to jot down notes, quick drawings, plans, colourways, layouts, you name it.  Photos are much quicker than writing or sketching.  Having this blog has had one side bonus in that I have been forced to sort of organise and name my photos and keep them in a sort of order!   The digital age also helps!

At the top of this photo is a plaster cast of someone’s teeth, bottom jaw I think.  I got this from a box of casts at the reverse garbage shop.  It was fairly clear that the box had been full and was now nearly empty and I did wonder what all the other people did with their casts!  I used mine to make an impression in one of those blue foam stamps that you heat up, impress, ink, stamp, clean, then heat again to re use with a different impression.  I inked the stamp with some acrylic paint then printed it onto the side of a page in my Altered Book.

I call this page Chompers!

The ReverseGarbage Shop is at 20 Burke Street, Woolloongabba, Brisbane.  They buy used or left over waste from industries,  they then sort it and put it in bins and you can go and get things to make other things with fairly cheaply.  Among some of the things I purchased were some sort of really rusty tool, some acrylic letters, some plexiglass to use for mono printing,  some  chipboard that I plan on using to make my own books one day as well as quite a few things that I can use to “make marks” on fabric.  There was also lots of things like wood, large plastic buckets that would be good for immersion dyeing, lots of posterboard, rubber bits, felt bits, foam bits, you name it!  It is not exactly dirty there but you do feel like washing your hands when you leave!

Another page finished in my Altered Book

I now have three or four completed pages in my Altered Book.  I have really enjoyed doing this project and I have practised lots of different techniques and tried out different things, colours.  Perse asked when it would be finished and then answered his own question with.  ” I suppose you could just go on with it for ever really!”

Embellishing machines, Altered Books, PhD’s and New Stamps.

This is the right eye of a confirmed PhD candidate.

Last Friday we went to watch our eldest daughter present for her confirmation of candidature for her phD.  Of course she got it and is now a student again.  I think it will take her about 3 years or so.  She took this photograph and it is one of the more serious pictures that I have of her.  Congratulations Eldest Daughter,  we are all very proud of you!

This is an old quilt I made  for this daughter which came back to me last week to have hanging sleeves put on it as it is to be hung in the Cherbourg State School Library.  It has hand prints of all of the children in her first class in Cherbourg and they used it to sit on during story time.  The turtle is made from a really lovely batik fabric that I have run out of and cannot find again!

At the last Craft show I made the great purchase of a new machine.  It is an embellishing machine, although on the box it says “punching Machine” what it really does is needle-felt with five needles at once –  quickly!  The Picture on the right is of some of my experimentation with some wool roving and pre-felt cut into shapes and a bit of yarn on a dyed batting base.  Eventually I will make this into a little bag, but it will have quite a lot of stitching on it first.

This wine glass I drew then painted quickly into my altered book the other morning.  I spent years in the 1990’s trying to learn how to paint glass and the other day after  very little painting in the last decade, it just came to me.  Although its not perfect I am quite pleased.  The spine of the book is a piece of fabric glued down with acrylic matte gel.  I can’t remember where I picked up this technique but you stick down some flat alphabet stickers and then iron them (under some baking paper) then using a stencil type of process you paint over the stickers with some fabric paint, I used Pebeo Setacolour.  When dry you just remove the stickers and heat set from the back with an iron.  I then cut the strip to measure and glued it down.  I had already  changed the colour of the cover to match the fabric.

On the weekend I saw this wooden block stamp from India in a shop called “Tree of Life”  This is not a shop I usually go into, it looks a bit like the old hippy shops, although in the 1970’s you might have found fruit flavoured “cigarette” papers under the glass of the counter!   The painted yellow and blue piece of paper is painted vliesofix, and the gold is fabric foil.  I am very taken by these old hieroglyphs that make you think the ancient greeks had mechanical implements with gauges and steam pouring out etc.  I have stamped with fabric paint onto some decorator weight 100%wool felt.  eventually I will cut it up and weave it back together with some other stuff and punch it all together with my new machine!

This picture of the tree trunk was taken at UQ St Lucia.  I think it is some sort of pepper tree.  Usually when I take this sort of textural photo I have no idea of how I would translate it onto some fabric.  But this time I do!