Ballarat Fibrearts 2018

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Fibrearts week at Ballarat, based at Ballarat Grammar. The weather was sublime-amazingly and I enjoyed many early morning walks around Lake Wendouree. A week long retreat is a great way to become immersed in a technique or theme with the bonus of lots of different classes to visit and chat to during the week.

The class I attended was Claire Benn‘s text on textiles. We had a very small class of 5 with very different art backgrounds which was great for bouncing ideas around. Claire was a very professional tutor and we had lots of notes and techniques to further explore at home.

What a great crew!

We experimented with lots of techniques including writing text with multiple instruments on multiple substrates, paper and fabric.

My favourite technique was the breakdown printing, which I hope to experiment lots with to get multiple layered backgrounds. Using the mx dyes was great as the fabric, once washed out, has a beautiful soft hand. I would like to try this technique with some natural dyes. Kerrie dd a blog post for GeeTAG here about the breakdown printing I demo’ed at a meeting.

The last day was the exhibition of all the groups’ work, here is just a small selection of some fantastic pieces with Kerrie’s memory piece bottom left and my breakdown printing on the right:

Ballarat 2018

On the last day Claire did a lucky dip for leftover materials, I was lucky enough to score the book below as well as some dyes and Manutex. Here is Claire in front of our group display.

Ballarat 2018

I would highly recommend the Ballarat fibrearts week as a great way to do some intensive textile art work as well as having great fun with like minded people.





May 7, 2018 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Memory workshop with Sandy Webster

Sandy Webster is visiting Australia (she is a big fan of this country) at the moment for Grampians Texture and I was lucky enough to attend a 2 day workshop at our local Studio 54.

There was not requirements list (“bring the materials you like to work with”). Sandy began with some inspirational photos and talk on her personal work on memory. She then individually tutored each person to find their oeurve (the group size of 6 was perfect). I have been working on memory pieces on my maternal grandmother over the last few years as she was my mentor, teacher and inspiration for embroidery and textile work.

A while back I developed a ‘deep map’ for an exhibition in Sydney so I have decided to continue this with a series of ‘pictorial maps’ on the women in my family whose stories have influenced and inspired me.

It took a while for me to crystallise a direction for this and start but I now have a clear vision for the development of this piece and will continue to work slowly, writing down the oral stories from my mother in a journal as I go. I am hoping the memories and stories from my mother will help with the details.

Sandy does sometimes teach a travel journal workshop and had an example with her, I think a hand made bound journal to record the ‘woman’s perspective’ of their historical story would be perfect.

‘The containing piece will consist of a map holder. Traditionally the explorers used leather containers of some sort, mine will be a cylindrical holder made using ‘paper leather’ on natural dyed cotton, more embellishment to come.

Map holder

I have started my ‘deep map’ with the story beginning from the time my Grandmother married and moved from her family home to her husband’s family farm. She experienced both hardship and joyful times and I am looking forward to slowly recording these in word and picture. The next stage will be future maps to record my own mother’s story as the young family moved off the farm (leaving it to the two youngest, unmarried brothers) and into a big town for secondary and further education and employment to support the family.

The map so far includes the family farm (Wattle Lodge) and will include the buildings of this little country town that were important to my grandmother’s story, incorporating fragments of my grandmother’s embroideries and other handwork.


I look forward to continuing the storying. Thank you Sandy and Kerrie for a most inspiring weekend and the opportunity to meet up and spend time with a such a wonderful group of  artists.

March 12, 2018 at 11:02 am Leave a comment

A trip to Sydney

During the summer break I had a short trip to Sydney to catch up with the committee of ATASDA for some strategic planning. There is a new Travelling suitcase exhibition planned for this year tentatively named “Frida and Flowers” which should be very exciting. I stayed with the very hospitable Miriam (Airbnb) in a beautiful terrace home in the very hip suburb of Newtown, lots of great restaurants to choose from. There was also a quite amazing exhibition on at Carriageworks by Katharina Grosse where huge amounts of canvas had been draped and painted.


Luckily this trip coincided with the Embroiderers’ Guild NSW Summer School and there was a weekend workshop available with Mirjam Agner called ‘A splash and a dash’ which was great fun. The Sydney Guild had just celebrated the opening of their newly renovated building and had a wonderful array of works exhibited. The Sydney Guild were very welcoming to an inter-stater, one of the things I love about being a member of the Guild.

Mirjam is a qualified teacher as well as a textile artist and she had lots of great design techniques to teach us. My favourite piece from the week was the dropcloth! I have started to stitch this piece in which I thought I saw a fisherman! I will take some photos of the other pieces I painted and printed and put them in another post.


While wandering around Sydney I ate some delicious food, took photos of the architecture and viewed a great exhibition at the S.H Ervin Gallery (National Trust building) called Intrepid women , which has inspired some pages in the book of women’s art I am constructing for our GeeTAG exhibition in March.




February 18, 2018 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

Goldwork finished

I have been very busy over the last 3 months working on samplers and pieces for the Intermediate course in Goldwork with Alison Cole for Embroiderer’s Guild Victoria.

First piece was to be an initial (very little gold thread in there!)

Second piece was to be based on a traditional form of design-I chose Art Deco style and decorated this very cute round bag I found in an Op Shop (lots of gold, black and purple-Art Deco colours). The dodgy cotton padding was fixed before the gold purl was added :

Art Deco bag

Final piece was to be a major study of A4 size (approx.). This is to be the cover of a Triptych, which will be completed for our EGV Geelong 50th anniversary exhibition in September. The piece was embroidered as a set of separate slips (technically mostly silver work), I hand painted the background silk:




February 18, 2018 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

Some natural dyeing and printing results

After my experimentation with some old op shop cottons and linens which had been soy mordanted a while ago, I got some muddy colours and very little print.

The red flowered gum leaves, blossoms and nuts gave a good coloured dye after cooking for an hour and then leaving for 24 hours. I strained the plant material from the water, added some alum to the pot, soaked the cottons in water for an hour and then bundled up. The cottons and a couple of scrap pieces of bridal satin were used with the leaves from the pot, some melaleuca sprigs and some eucalyptus cineria that had been soaked in rainwater. Some of the cooked leaves were dipped in iron water, most of the bundles were tied with silk tape around bamboo sticks, two were bundled around iron rods.


After reading Irit Dulman’s latest blog post I will try a bit more experimentation this week-thank you Irit for sharing some of your processes, we would love to see you in Australia!

I am thinking now of dyeing my upcycled linen dress in onion skins first and then try the overprint with the leaves. I will do a few more samples and see how they turn out before committing to the dress.


Onions skins and bark cooking

I will pop a few pieces in the pot tomorrow.


October 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

Rosellas and spring

These blossoms and leaves were collected beneath the red flowering gum tree as a flock of rosellas (or pandemonium of parrots) feasted above. They are very messy eaters with blossom and branches strewn all around.

There are signs of spring everywhere: daffodils, blossoms and new growth, but also the chill of winter still in the air with snow falling not too far away and torrential rain the last few days.

They will be cooked up and rolled in various op shop cottons (with a soy mordant) to see what colour the spring will bring, perhaps a little iron water in a second batch. I have a sprig of dried cineraria from the florist that will be soaked and added to the bundle for comparison. Results will be posted in a week or two.

September 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Printing, marbling, felting & more-a catch up

We have had some great plays on fabric recently at our GeeTAG group. Our fifth Saturday play day at Shearer’s Arms studio has enabled us to spend extended time on messy play. At our April messy day we tried lino and meat tray prints, stencilling using brusho, printing with a variety of materials, marbling on fabric, flour paste resist and a technique using textas and methylated spirits to colour fabric.

Printing, stencilling & colouring

My marbled fabric, centre bottom, was a little grainy as it was the first pull of the ink off the carrageenan. After a couple of prints the clarity improved. The flour paste resist is something I will experiment with more (right top) and the top left was our regular Saturday meeting, topic: Stitch on paper, where we made paper fabric using a variety of papers pasted onto calico. I also aged my paper with a few dabs of walnut ink when I got home.

Nuno felting

Our March meeting was nuno felting and I made the piece above for the front cover of my book, the 2017 “Choose your own adventure’ project for GeeTAG. I have just dyed some more fleece in walnut ink to make another piece for the back cover.

Auditioning threads

Above you can see a glimpse of the gum nut panel I have been working on for Dijanne Cevaal’s ‘Aussie Bush’ project. I have added some organza over the design, framed it with some of my natural dyed, printed silk, FME’d and will add some hand stitch elements. I dyed some silk in walnut ink for the binding but it is not as dark as I would like so I may re-immerse that again to get a nice dark frame for the work.

May 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

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