Posts filed under ‘Native plants’

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

Some slow stitch

I have been housebound the last two weeks following surgery so slow stitch by hand has been very therapeutic. I recently purchased a download version of India Flint’s bagstories self publication and have three bags in process. India has also started a Facebook group for sharing the results which provides lots of inspiration. The first two need finishing details. The first one I made from a remnant of linen and appliqued fragments of my ‘eco-printed’ silks and cottons. I added a strap using a cashmere and wool sample but find it a little long so I am thinking about how to remedy that. The lining is silk dyed/printed using iron water. It will have a closure added, still browsing the ideas on Facebook to decide on that.

Tsunobukuro bag

The second is hand stitched using squares of natural dyed and printed silks and cottons. It needs a closure of some kind and a strap, I will hopefully finish these over the coming days. The squares had some disappointing natural dyed cottons used like paper piecing in quilts so I will also add a full lining to finish and strengthen it, maybe cotton or linen as the outside is all silk. This is a picture of some of the squares in process:


little squares bag

The third bag is a very slow stitch one: a boro bag with lots of vintage indigo and sari bits, my own ‘ecoprints’ and I will also add some naturally dyed fabric and threads I purchased from Arlee Barr (be warned these took almost a month to arrive by post-blaming Australia post dis-service for that) once the base fabrics are secured.

Boro bag stitching

As well as these projects on the go and cogitating, I have just finished my contribution to India’s ‘gardens of the heart’ project which will culminate in an exhibition in South Australia early next year and also a publication of the resulting poems. Each participant is allocated line 1,2 or 3 of a short poem to stitch. Here is mine below using whipped chain stitch on natural dyed and printed bridal silk remnant, photographed among the she-oak and grevillea this morning (very dull morning today):



June 8, 2018 at 1:56 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

New work, no photos

Hmmm, I seem to always forget to take photos before I send off finished work. I have decided I must get into the habit, as out of sight, out of mind and I forget totally about them!

On Friday I posted off my flag to India Flint’s ‘solace’ project, I used the sleeve of an Op shop linen shirt to cut out the flag shape and embroidered my words in silk/wool thread from Beautiful silks. The button and buttonhole were very handy for attaching the ties. There is still time to participate, here.

I have also sent off my finished dragon for Dijanne Cevaal’s Medieval Project. This is currently on display in  Nantes, France and will also be on display in Australia.

I do, however have some photos from other exploits and stitching.

Over the Easter holiday break, Claudia and I headed off for a few days to the Dandenongs and Melbourne. I have not been to the Dandenongs for at least 25 years. We stayed at a great BnB in Olinda:

View from our BnB bedroom window

View from our BnB bedroom window

We stopped in Sassafrass on the way for lunch and a browse and also enjoyed the quirky shops in Olinda. There were a couple of great pubs in Mt Dandenong for evening meals, Claudia was in heaven in the vintage shop there as well. Within very close proximity to our accommodation we visited many gardens including Cloudehill– $10 entry and not very friendly or helpful but lovely gardens, RJ Hamer Arboretum, which was a wonderfully quiet walk among the trees, William Ricketts Sanctuary with all his magnificent sculptured carvings, the National Rhododendron Garden which was glorius in autumn colours and by far our favourite, Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Sherbrooke which were a wonderful walk along terraced paths but unfortunately the famous ponds were drained for maintenance works and the Karwarra Australian plant garden which was quite small but had a good range of native plants for sale.

The Dandenong gardens

We could easily return for another few days to visit all the gardens we missed out on seeing. I highly recommend a trip in autumn, a beautiful, mild weather time for travelling and viewing all the beautiful gardens.

Autumn colour Olinda

Autumn colour Olinda

We stopped in Melbourne on the way back to see a few exhibits including the excellent ‘Exquisite Threads English Embroidery 1600’s – 1900’s’ at the NGV.

I loved the embroidery with Australian native flowers on this gown.



Last weekend our branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild held a little exhibition at Wintergarden for the Heritage Festival. We were asked to contribute a postcard on the ANZAC theme of ‘care and compassion’, this is mine here:

Anzac P:card

Uncle Victor's atlas

I used offcuts from the aforementioned Dragon embroidery fused to pelmet vilene to form the cross, symbolising the amazing work done by the nurses during the war (there is also a great exhibition at the National Wool museum detailing many of the contributions of women during WW1 which I visited last weekend). This was covered with organza printed with a map of Flanders in France taken from my Great Uncle’s Atlas published in 1920. I added the FME of a mixing bowl and spoon, some silk, organza and beaded poppies and some hand dyed wool knitted on the little chopstick knitting needles with painted air dry clay on the ends.

Now I am heading out to the ‘studio’ to finish off:

1. ATC’s for swap with Guild

2. Indigo dyeing for fabric swap

3. Pink trophy for Cancer fundraiser netball game

4. Notebook cover (below) for the stall at our bi-annual exhibition in October

Embellishment to be added, patterned Japanese fabric will be the lining

Embellishment to be added, patterned Japanese fabric will be the lining


April 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm 1 comment

Getting closer

I am just about to spend the rest of the day putting the final coat of paint on the very, very long project of the girl’s shed. This is all the woodwork which is quite a slow process-skirting boards, window and door surrounds and the huge cupboards. This means I can finally start moving in all my ‘stuff’ which means a big sorting through, emptying of all the cupboards inside and probably numerous bags to go to the Op Shop.


The view out the door (ignore the work table)

The view out the door (ignore the work table)


The row of cupboards

The row of cupboards

Inside the cupboards

Inside the cupboards

view to the right

view to the right

view to the left

view to the left

the sink unit (to be plumbed in)

the sink unit (to be plumbed in)

Hopefully this second coat won’t take the five hours the first coat took!

The floor is still covered in old carpet pieces for protection. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do this before the shed ‘putter upper’ got to work and took chunks out of my specially chocolate coloured (for heat absorption) concrete floor. The floor will be given two more coats of sealant when all else is finished off.

Autumn will be a great time to get a garden going out in front and on the side of the shed, hopefully some plants for a dye garden (if we can get some decent rain-temperatures here 20 celsius all week and only just over two weeks until winter-amazing).

I am still debating about the rest of the furniture- do I buy a second hand large table for cutting and sewing (2 metres or longer) or make one up from bits and pieces; do I buy that very expensive adjustable Horn sewing table ($1000 is a lot of money for quite a simple table) or once again, make something up. Big decisions!!

May 15, 2014 at 11:48 am 2 comments

TAFTA Geelong Fibre Forum 2012

It was an absolute pleasure to spend a whole week with a group of lovely, generous and creative people in Hilary Peterson’s class ‘Dye, Print, Stitch’ at TAFTA’s Geelong Forum. Thankyou all and especially Hilary for your generosity in sharing your techniques and knowledge. and inspiring us all.

We began the week with lots of brewing of leaves, bark, pods and beetroot that happened to be in my crisper. I have since found this blog showing dyeing with purple carrots which I will have to try.

Into the brews went a multitude of bundles containing silk and wool fabric, doilies, wool, threads, papers of all description, leaves, flowers, blossoms, bark, sticks, fleece, silk rods, buttons and possibly much, much more.

The most exciting part was opening the bundles to see what had eventuated. My favourites were silk fabrics dyed with dark purple prunus leaves from an enormous and very old tree in my yard. Some beautiful results were also obtained from Eucalyptus cineria leaves with an iron mordant. I will be finding and planting this tree as soon as possible!!

After our dyeing had been unravelled and marvelled at we started carving and printing: meat trays, soft sculpt, lino, leaves, gumnuts and other objects. We experimented with texture using gesso, eggshells, sawdust and sand. We sponged and brushed and painted and resisted.





Finally we stitched, a lovely calming meditative end to the week.

You can see more photos on our group blog as I shared to the class with two of our group.

September 30, 2012 at 11:44 am 3 comments

Black Felt

I have spent some time this weekend back doing some stitching and I feel so much better for it. For me any kind of stitching is therapeutic, I can’t wait until the thesis is out of the way and I can do more.

Many moons ago Susan Lenz sent me some black felt from way over in Columbia, USA. This felt had been used as packaging and was donated to her by a local outdoor shop. Susan generously decided to share it out with the proviso that the recipients make and send a postcard to the original donor. I have finally managed to finish two postcards, one for Guy and one for Susan and I applaud, not only their generosity, but their great recycling! Susan reuses lots of vintage materials in her art and is going from strength to strength, having just staged a wonderful exhibition. I also gave some pieces of the felt to the members of our Creative Fibre Art Group. I have photos back from two members of their lovely creations, just waiting for a couple more and I will put those on the group blog.

I used this photo, taken at Kings Park, Perth when I went over for Maggie Grey’s workshop last year:

I edited the photo and printed out onto a cotton sheet. I painted the black felt from Susan with various blueish paints and then fused the image. It was then covered with white or black netting (one is darker) and purple chiffon scarf from the op shop. Using multiple colours of rayon threads I free machine stitched over the picture, also machining over added leaves cut from organza. It was heat gunned just a little to distress. I then made a couple of gum leaves by machining over organza and threads trapped between solvy, which were added on top. The edging is a twisted wool cord zigzagged to the edge. I used white bobbinfill when machining the trunk of the tree, which has given an interesting silhouette on the back. Because the felt is quite sturdy, and has many stitched layers, it didn’t need any further stiffening so I left the back visible.

Thankyou Susan and Guy, your postcards will be on their way tomorrow.



February 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm 2 comments

Progress- of sorts

Firstly, I have been playing with paperclay and have made my first sea angel head. This is for a Christmas exhibition at the Johnston Collection, a collaboration of all the arty groups in Geelong. I began with a foil base on galvanised wire:

foiled headsFollowing a tutorial here, I added the paperclay, beginning with a basic shape and then adding the details. This was great fun and Claudia joined in, making a Little Miss figure.

As you can see I have not yet added the ears, I’m wondering if they are necessary as she will have long hair. The pictures of ship’s figureheads which I have are the inspiration for the sea angels, and they all have ears so I had better add them. She is not quite symmetrical, but I plan to paint her in colours of the deep (a la Maggie Grey), not realistically, so I think she will look fine. Most people have slightly wonky faces anyway!! I have another to do as yet.

paperclay headHere are my ‘killed catalogues‘ in progress.

This one I plan to embellish with gum tree type features; leaves, gum nuts etc.

gum tree stump:progressThis has a combination of quink, moonshadow mists, starburst stains and shimmering mists sprayed.

The next one I embedded some gauze and lace fabric in the gesso, then painted the same as the one above.

A in W progressI was inspired by Heather’s fantastic chessmen and the gap in the middle for this one. It will be based on Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass and have text and WSP heads. A friend has a concrete statue of Alice just the right size, so I hope to  borrow it to do a paper cast.

Next month at the Creative Fibre arts group we will be playing with water soluble paper and paper clay so hopefully I’ll have all these finished to show.


June 18, 2009 at 11:34 am 2 comments

School Holiday Fun

We have come to the end of Term 1 holidays here in Victoria, the children are back at school and I’m hoping to get back to some textile art. I always think I’ll have time to achieve so much in the holidays and end up doing so much, none of it from my list!!! After reading about Doreen’s granddaughter and her postcard swapping I decided I should do more to encourage youngest daughter’s creativity, not hard as she loves to do arty stuff. We went to a holiday art class using felt and she is very proud of her Coco bear:

We followed this up with some felting, inspired by the felt beads made by Mary MacVoy.

As the youngest with two older brothers, Claudia gets a fairly hard time so we had some girl time out.
We went to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, where they had some great children’s activities with easels for drawing with a variety of media, face painting, some very funny interactive creatures and a free plant potting activity. She had a great time and bought some painted toadstools to put in ‘her’ garden with the free bulbs she was given along with the native plant Aussie garden guru Don Burke gave her. Then we went to our hotel for the night where she again received lots of special attention. The next day we went shopping in Bridge Rd, Richmond, famous for it’s designer outlets and then to the Melbourne Zoo. Got home pooped but happy!! (No pictures, I forgot the camera!)

April 9, 2008 at 12:51 pm 3 comments


March 2023

Notebook Project