Beachcombing for eco dyeing

Our dog loves a walk on the beach and lately there has been a lot of seaweed washing up.

I decided to have a go at some eco dyeing following a suggestion by India Flint to try using seawater as a mordant.

I took some pieces of silk and linen down with me to dunk in the sea and collected a little of the many varieties of seaweed that had washed up on the beach. I found the best imprint were from the less fleshy types. I also bundled up some of the cards I had received from India from her latest project.

I decided to try steaming the bundles for an hour or two first (just using boiled water in the bottom of the pot) and then left the bundles (but not the paper one) sitting in the dye water overnight. I also used an old bolt tied into one of the bundles which may have helped to strengthen the result.

The effects were some great prints and textures, and a distinctly sea smell. Some of these will be finding their way into a book I am making for the ATASDA annual exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney in May.

Wrapped sea parcels

Wrapped sea parcels

From the sea

From the sea



Bolt marks and the more subtle reverse

Bolt marks and the more subtle reverse


February 22, 2016 at 11:36 pm 1 comment

TAST 2016

I am finally getting around to posting the first four stitches of TAST 2016.

Stitch number 1 for 2016 (but 24 on the total list) is interlaced cable chain. It sounds complicated but was easy to get the hang of and is a great filler stitch. I preferred the effect of lacing every stitch in one direction rather than every second stitch and then reversing to go back through again. My sampler fabric is some ‘mop up’ cotton over calico and the thread used is a variety of perle and crochet cottons.

Interlaced cable chain

Interlaced cable chain

Stitch number 25 is twisted chain and makes up the edging of the next leaf. I have stitched close together (rope stitch) and I love the texture of this using Perle 5. In the centre I have used stitch number 26, Arrow stitch, using perle 8, perle 5 and a lovely metallic cord.

rope-ArrowStitch number 27 is Bonnet stitch using perle 8. I found it difficult to get even stitching around the curves of the foot shape, hopefully this would improve with practice as I like the spiky effect.

Bonnet stitch

Bonnet stitch


February 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

A peacock called by…

I am used to sweeping the little offerings left on the deck outside my studio by our current lawnmower lambs, Denis and Michael. We are also accustomed to the occasional blue tongue lizard, rabbit, snake, cow, horse and the odd glimpse of the resident echidna. I was, however,  quite surprised by the visitor who dropped by today, I might need to advertise on Facebook for its owner who might be worried!

Peacock at the studio

Peacock at the studio

December 13, 2015 at 10:21 pm 2 comments

North West Tassie

Our last holiday saw us travel south once again to our beautiful island state, Tasmania. This time we were planning to travel in some of the more remote areas of North West Tasmania, so decided to take the car across on the ferry. The day sail on a balmy Sunday was very relaxing until we berthed at Devonport. Unfortunately the very poor disembarkation process meant we could not drive the 5 minutes to our accommodation for 2 hours (6-8pm), a truly dreadful case of disorganisation and chaos. Luckily there was a late night supermarket still open to buy breakfast provisions and also a late night bakery for dinner.

The next morning I had planned an early drive to see the sunrise at Narawntapu National Park and hopefully see the wombats. Unfortunately the Park website had not been updated with the news that all the wombats had succumbed to mange several weeks previously (we found this out several days later). However we did have an amazing early morning walk around the spectacular Springlawn lagoon (2 hours) where we saw lots of wildlife at close quarters including kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelon. The bird hide, accessed by a boardwalk through the mangroves was a great experience.

Narawntapu Park

Narawntapu Park

Our itinerary for the first day was to drive the coastal north coast west to Stanley for a 2 night stay. This was a fantastic drive with wonderful towns all the way along including lunch and arts at Burnie, car museum at  Wynyard and magnificent scenery such as the ‘three sisters’ and the view along the coast from Table Cape.

From Stanley we explored the North west corner of Tasmania, enjoyed the amazingly well preserved historical buildings, tackled the steep climb up the Nut and saw one penguin come ashore at the harbour.



Our next stop was the much anticipated, world renowned Cradle Mountain. We limited ourselves to the 2.5 hour walk around Dove Lake and a few shorter walks from the visitors centre. The Park is very well serviced with a range of accommodation options (we chose a cabin at the caravan park) and a great shuttle bus service. We were informed that September is the wettest month at Cradle Mountain, usually only five days of the month that it doesn’t rain and luckily we scored a beautiful clear day.

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

The drive south from Cradle Mountain to Strahan was a beautiful forest route to one of the most beautiful little towns in Tassie. We drove straight through to the ocean side of the town for our accommodation in a very rustic, but charming  fisherman’s hut on an inlet. We will definitely return to this lovely town with its proximity to the Gordon River, history and working sawmill. We bought a few small offcuts of the distinctive, salvaged huon pine to make shelves on our return home. Unfortunately we couldn’t fit in the piece I wanted for my kitchen bench-we will have to get that freighted over (or maybe go back again).



From Strahan we travelled the long way to Mole Creek- lots of winding roads which degenerated into a long spell of dirt road, but it was well worth the drive for the amazing scenery and the opportunity to be driving in the clouds at the highest point. The trip to Trowunna Wildlife Park fulfilled the promise of being able to cuddle a wombat (lots of wombats here) and also to pat a Tassie devil.

Our journey finished with 2 nights in the amazing town of Launceston, staying in a sensational Airbnb right next to Cataract Gorge



. The weather closed in on our final full day at the end of our tour around the Tamar Valley wineries.

November 7, 2015 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

What I am reading in bed – September

33 artists book

And the recipients should have received their ATCs for August. The theme was ‘chair’. I took my inspiration from a sketch of a peacock chair. The background is colour washed inktense sticks and the chair was FME using two colours of metallic thread, charcoal and a silver on top. I love the illuminations black jewel metallics which I bought from the Thread studio, they have great depth of colour.

Peacock chair 2

September 11, 2015 at 9:22 am 2 comments

Catch up fabric swaps and ATC’s

This will be a double month catch up.

Generally I need to wait a few weeks to ensure the overseas fabric swaps (through Ning group Stitchin Fingers) have reached their destination before publishing details – I’d hate to be a spoiler of the great surprises we get when we open our envelopes. However, quite often I forget to take photos before popping them in the envelopes!

May prompt was ‘sewing altered’, a very broad range of techniques were possible. I decided to have a go at insertion lace using machine stitching and dissolvable. Strips of sari silk were pieced together before rinsing out the dissolvable and then machine stitching dyed cocoon strips resulting in a very landscape like piece of fabric. This result also inspired me to decide on making an entry for Bery Patchwork’s “Kimberley Dreaming’ exhibition.

FME silk stripsJune’s ATC theme was brown paper and foil so that also became my June fabric swap as well as it was a free choice.

“The brown paper bag is the only thing civilized man has produced that does not seem out of place in nature.” Tom Robbins

The ATC was created using the info in the tutorial from Sue Bleiwiess on making a brown paper journal.

The brown paper was painted, crumpled a few times, rubbed with stamp pads, foiled and vliesofixed to tea dyed calico. The surface was FME’d using metallic threads.

The handles from the brown paper bags were also thrown into the tea dye bucket and then manipulated into celtic knots before being hand-stitched in place. Finally spangles were hand stitched in place.

I made enough of the brown paper ‘leather’ to also send off to my fabric ‘swapees’.

Brown celtic

July ATC theme was the Australian Bush.

Although we are not living in the Aussie bush, our property is in a rural area which includes much native vegetation, as well as close proximity to a nature reserve (over the paddocks).

Within our boundaries I try to retain some ‘wild’ areas as habitat and protection for the many native creatures that share our home- skinks, blue tongue lizards and echidnas as well as myriad visiting birds and insects.

For this ATC I chose to depict our resident echidna, whom we unfortunately don’t spot all that often. The techniques include drawing/washing colour with inktense crayons, FME and hand embroidery.

Painting the echidnas

Painting the echidnas

Echidna 1Now working on finishing my July/August fabric swaps: printing and another free choice plus August ATC swap: ‘chair’. All of these are at advanced stages and should be ready to send off by the end of next week.


August 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm 1 comment

Leaf-May ATCs

I’m assuming these ATCs have been received so I will show a little of the process I used to make them. I decided to go with a macro version of a leaf for this ATC so I started by doing an image search on the web for inspiration. I also had a couple of photos taken in our garden for inspiration as well, then sketched up a design.

To make the base I layered coloured strips of fabric and vliesofixed to a base calico fabric.

ATC sheet 1

This was covered with chiffon and I added some extra colour with watercolour sticks and auditioned some threads for free machining.

adding colour

Auditioning threads

and then FME’d using some cording to make the veining stand out.


and a close up with some beads hand stitched for dewdrops.


Atc 4

A couple of the beautiful ATCs received for this month’s theme:

leafAnd my walk this week on the beach- still winter chilly but some welcome sun and blue skies.

Winter beach

I almost have my May/June fabric swaps, June ATCs and a wall quilt for SWTAFE finished. All were held up by three days in bed with a winter virus but I’m hoping to get them all posted before we head off north for a welcome holiday in warmer climes this week.

June 28, 2015 at 1:58 pm 1 comment

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