Apple leaves for dyeing and printing

As the apple tree was losing its last leaves I decided to collect those newly fallen and about to fall for a dyepot. I had planned to try to get a green dye from my deciduous fruit trees but left it a little late and most leaves were fallen and mushy after recent rain. That will have to be an experiment for next autumn (2022 here in the Southern Hemisphere).

Instead I added some of my collection of brown onions skins to bulk up the colour. I ended up with three stocking leg ‘tea’ bags of dye material and cooked these up for an hour, then left to rest overnight. The next morning I removed the ‘tea’ bags and heated up the liquid, added a few lengths of gauzy cotton and silk, some with apple leaves to imprint, to the the pot and gently simmered for an hour. The result was a variety of yellows from bright to mellow.

I then decided to use some pieces of op shop cream blanketing as there appeared to be still dye in the pot. These were tied in bundles some had red & brown onions skins tied inside, others had some untwisted copper electrical wire and gum leaves tied in. One piece was wrapped around a twisted copper pipe, the others were thick enough just to roll up and tie. The pot was heated up, the wool added and very gently cooked for an hour, turned off and left in the pot for two days (I was busy with other activities).

The gauzy materials were very subtle, the wool was quite vibrant-I wonder if the copper acted as mordant to make these intense colours and prints.

The interesting imprint of the copper pipe on the right
Onion skins and gum leaves imprinted
Copper wire and gum leaves

July 21, 2021 at 11:08 am 3 comments

Time for an update

When you are busy making, especially if it involves travelling, it is hard to find the time to blog. My most recent jaunt, undertaken with a little trepidation of a snap covid shutdown, was a flight to Sydney to enjoy a wonderful felted vessels workshop with Denise Lithgow organised by ATASDA. Denise is a very generous tutor who shared many of her techniques over that she employs in her wonderful award winning sculptural vessels.

The company of the creative and generous ATASDA members plus Denise’s delicious cakes and even champagne for a birthday celebration made this one of my most memorable workshops!

Denise and her husband Peter Griffen live and work in a quirky renovated factory in inner Sydney. As we worked we were surrounded by Peter’s colourful paintings (and floor) and characterful sculptures along with Denise’s amazing maxi sized vessels and machine embroidered artworks. All in all a totally fabulous art immersive experience!

Cracked bowl technique

A more adventurous piece incorporating many of Denise’s techniques has been put on hold due to other events but I am looking forward to getting back to it.

Another recent workshop was held by fellow GeeTAGger Kerrie Maloney on coptic bound sketchbooks. Although I had tried this binding technique before nothing beats a hands on tutorial with an expert and the company of other creatives. I have one sketchbook completed and one in process (which will be gifted). I can see, once I have mastered the basics, this will be a technique for further exploration. If you are local to Geelong, Kerrie is looking to start a bookbinding group to meet before our GeeTAG sessions. Contact us if you are interested.

Each signature is bound with a piece of interesting paper

Our latest GeeTAG session for May was great fun. Led by Gillian, we played with lots of drawing and printing materials on watercolour paper. I will be trying this on fabric soon.

May 22, 2021 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

Making paper from jeans and tshirts

Thank you to Gail Stiffe for a wonderful workshop with the Papermakers of Victoria where we recycled old denim jeans and clothing plus tshirts to make some wonderfully coloured and textured papers. We also used resists to create pockets using 2 different sized deckles. Excellent fun and can highly recommend the POV workshops.

Variety of pocket options
Texture and two layered paper
Embedded contrast and teabag

March 26, 2021 at 11:12 am 1 comment

Treasure Trove Challenge

Another challenge I took part in last year was with ATASDA (Australian Textile and Surface Decoration Association) which included members Australia wide. Currently the challenge art pieces are on display at Epping Creative Centre and will travel to other venues as restrictions ease.

Members nominated to join the Challenge and were given a Challenge partner. Each person created their own ‘treasure’ in whatever textile medium they chose. The only limitation was a size one for posting. Once finished my treasure, based on a conch shell, was posted to my partner to create the ‘receptacle’ or treasure holder. You can view all the treasures and their receptacles on the ATASDA website galleries.

To create my shell I began with needlefelting, then wet felting to create the base ‘fabric’. The piece was free machine stitched, lined with natural dyed and twin needled silk, formed into the 3D shell and then handstitched and beaded.

My treasure partner used nuno felting to create a wonderful ‘stage’ for the shell:

January 10, 2021 at 9:27 pm 2 comments

Labyrinth

The 2020 Biblio Art Prize at Blarney Books & Art is now open for viewing, both in Port Fairy and online.

The Biblio Art Prize began in 2009 and has become very popular, attracting entries from around Australia and overseas.  It was instigated by and continues to be run through Blarney Books and Art in Port Fairy, a quirky bookshop plus art gallery that is an institution in Victoria for locals and travellers alike. A book title is chosen from a hat and the entrant is expected to read and respond to the book in some way or form.

This year Blarney Books and Art chose to select books written by Australian authors for the art prompt. I was emailed The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey and promptly supported my local bookstore by buying the book. As one of the finalists my piece is included in both the online and physical exhibitions.

Title: Perfect Imperfection

Book Title: The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey

Medium: Textile Art: Goldwork, Free Machine Embroidery, Hand Embroidery.

Brief Statement:

This book brought to mind the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi, its complexity and imperfectness, which is reflected in all our lives. The book explores the elements of strength/resilience and kindness/softness.

The Labyrinth speaks to:

            How we care for others,

            How we respond to adversity,

            How we accept the imperfection of human nature.

The artwork started with a base of natural silk, strong yet soft. I painted the colours of sea and sky and used frottage to simulate the grey gravel of the zen garden. The soft cotton, repeated stitching is a meditation on the labyrinth, the metal of goldwork the strength that holds us all together. The twisted tree, reminiscent of my beach walks, represents the complexity of family relationships and the chairs the warmth and belonging of community.

A labyrinth is the opportunity to meditate on the perfect imperfection of life and living.

Detail

The piece is framed by Mulbury Framers in Highett who use beautiful reclaimed and recycled timber.

January 10, 2021 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

Just one more stitch

I have finally called time on my Teatowel stitching for the India Flint ‘Sailing the Armchair’ exhibition at Fabrik Arts + Heritage, an historic woollen mill in Loebethal, South Australia.

My teatowel was a very old, faded linen with a few holes that was destined to become a cleaning rag. I popped it in a madder dyepot with a few other threads and fabrics to brighten the colour. This has been a slow stitch project over the last 6 months. I added ideas and bibs and bobs as they occurred to me. It has emerged as a story cloth around the central motif of mother earth and the need to nurture our sustaining planet before it is too late. My almost daily beach walks with my dog continued throughout this covid on/off year as did my habit to ‘take three for the sea’, generally being various bits of rubbish, plastic and many, many sharp pieces of broken glass. Several of my beach pick ups are included including a helium balloon with attached string. All of the threads are ecodyed from my own dyepot, Rita Summers kind contribution and Arlee Barr’s lovely threads. It is currently making its way to South Australia.

These very sweet little buttons were picked up somewhere in an Op Shop

January 8, 2021 at 7:24 pm 1 comment

Scraps and more

I am calling this one finished. Thank you Anne Lawson for the suggestions. I am very happy with this and need to stop before it becomes overworked. Knowing when to stop can be the most difficult decision!

Phases of time 1

I am calling this Phases of time 1 as I might revisit this concept to complete some more stitcheries of different shapes and sizes. Mostly completed from the stash except for a couple of sashiko threads in blues ordered online Wafu Works. This will be sent off to Rita of Gone Rustic in Tasmania for her ‘Marking Time’ exhibition.

Two more projects on the go at the moment:

Finishing a receptacle for my partner’s treasure in the ATASDA Challenge and

Continuing to work on an artwork for the 2020 Biblio Art Prize.

Design finalised for the piece inspired by The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey, just auditioning some metal threads.

September 12, 2020 at 4:58 pm 3 comments

Some beginnings and a finish, maybe!

Many events this year have been cancelled or postponed and many more have sprung up. There are so many virtual and online offerings it can be overwhelming. However, I have chosen a couple, such as India Flint’s ‘In Place, Voyage of the Armchair’ which has been delightful and meditative. I continue to dip in and out of her wonderful offerings when I need a break from working online. I am also working away on a piece for an exhibition with India resulting from this online adventure.

It has been inspiring following textile artists’ blogs during this time. I have been using my Armchair voyage journal to respond to the many ideas and thoughts flowing from so much wonderful inspiration.

Rita from Gone Rustic Studio & Gallery in St Mary’s Tasmania has an exhibition happening in October called ‘Marking Time’. I have started an entry for that based on phases of the moon:

The base is from an indigo dyeing class a few years ago. The moon is beautiful silk velvet natural dyed by Arlee Barr. Just waiting for a selection of blue threads from Wafu Works in Tasmania, hopefully it won’t take too long to arrive, though the post is very erratic at the moment. Yah, Threads have arrived and this piece is now finished (maybe)! It is a little more picturesque than I was going for. Now I am thinking I might need to break down the strong vertical with some short scraps of horizontal red, any thoughts?

Phases of Time 1

Another one I have just signed up to is the Blarney Books and Art Biblio Art Prize. Blarney Books is a Port Fairy institution and the Art prize is where artists create a piece of work in response to a book, this year all Australian authors published in the last 12 months. My book title is picked from a hat and emailed. Still waiting for this one. Covid-19 has taught me patience!

Lucky me – I have received my book title- The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey. Now ordered from the bookshop and I will pick up later in the week. Now how to create an interesting labyrinth!

August 31, 2020 at 10:17 pm 2 comments

Some dyeing and stitching

Here we are in another school holidays with a little time to create. I am currently working on finishing a ‘treasure’ for the Challenge with ATASDA. When I finish my treasure I will post to my challenge partner who will make a receptacle to contain it. All the treasures will be part of an exhibition in various states of Australia. ATASDA is an Australia wide group that encourages experimentation with textile art and surface decoration through social days, workshops, various exhibitions and challenges. Due to Covid many of these have been forestalled but in the background much has been happening. The website committee are putting the final touches to a brand new contemporary website, hoping to launch in mid July.

I am also preparing an exhibit for the ATASDA Bi-ennial exhibition at The Calyx, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. The exhibition, Interlude, has been postponed to the first week in November. For the theme I have been dyeing fine cottons and silks (fabrics and threads) to create a bojagi type cloth. The cloth will depict the regeneration of the earth between the five mass extinctions. It is designed to be both a warning to humanity and a source of hope.

Over the lockdown I enrolled in India Flint’s wonderful ISO class, In place :: sailing the armchair around the village well. It is/was a wonderful class that started as 23 days (continued well past that) and continues monthly at the moment. The meditative stitching/actions in this class are so very good for the spirit/soul in these very difficult times. Below is a journal cover I am continuing to stitch of an evening:

A tickle of feathers:

A silken biscornu

Just a little taste of where we sailed in our armchairs. Also in progress as slow cloths are a Wayfarer’s cloak and a cloth for a group exhibition in the new year.

July 5, 2020 at 11:40 am 3 comments

Eucalyptus and onion skins

It is school holidays in our neck of the woods so I have been busy brewing up a few different concoctions and natural dyeing and printing. At the moment I am participating in India Flint’s latest online stitch gathering which has been very grounding given the worldwide pandemic shutdowns.

An old teatowel was suggested to create a journal cover so I decided on one that has been used as a cleaning cloth. Mordanted for 24 hours with soy milk and bundled with eucalyptus prunings discovered on my walk and red onion skins. See the before and after below:

Eucalyptus and onion prints

The eucalyptus prunings were a happy find as I walked past just after the owner had pruned. I soaked them in an aluminum pot with a splash of vinegar for a couple of days. I cooked up some other old eucalyptus leaves and brown onion skins with a couple of bits of metal for the dye bath. I also popped in a few other bundles:

This one is a silk op shop shirt collar which was wrapped around a bit of copper pipe.
Wrapped around a flat piece of metal picked up on a walk.

And then these very subtle prints on some sheeting which had been soda ashed and stored.

Cotton oats bag and sheeting

Such a huge variety from the same pot. They were left overnight to cool in the pot and then I poured the liquid into a jar to save.

You might have noticed the lovely strips of silk under the collar above. I had a hank of sari silk ribbons I had picked up a year or so ago from the TAFTA Geelong Fibre Forum traders. I decided to give it a wash with the trusty eucalyptus wool and delicates liquid soap. OMG the first wash water was putrid, I think they were the dags of the sari silk industry. I washed again using the eucalyptus wash and then rinsed twice. Finally they all had to be ironed. At this stage I was wondering if they really were silk. However as I ironed them dry the silk sheen came back- only took me two hours all up! About 5% of the strips were still marked and stained but most were pretty clean. Below shows the process from a tangled mess to silky strips.

Sari silk ribbons

Now off to make some oak gall soup to do a proper mordant on a heap of cotton and some precious strips of hemp.

April 10, 2020 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

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