Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Linocutting and I

I seem to have done a lot of linocutting of late, mainly because the more I do it, the more ideas spring to mind, and I can't wait to get onto the next one.

There is a few things I wanted to share as to how I work with linocuts. It is a bit different than making linocuts for paper- where you often texture the black in order to create texture- so you will often find there is more of  black on the paper than white ( the negative space)- this is partly because the evenness of your black indicates your skill as a printmaker. Also some of the background gouging out does not print on paper as it is a harder surface but it does print on  because ,fabric is soft and therefore picks up some of that texture- which at times can be disconcerting.So I tend to gouge quite deeply.

I never use a brayer to ink up my linocuts- I use a dense foam roller that I buy in hardware shops. Over the years I have discovered not all dense foam rollers are equal and some do the coverage job much better than others, so there are now  a favourite or two one of which at least one gets to have trips overseas, so that when I feel the inclination to make a linocut I know I can get a decent print. My linocutting tools also travel ,as do bits of lino. I use silk cut lino as I like it's density for carving and I find I can get a good print on fabric with it. There are softer materials to carve available but I feel they don't carve in the same way nor do they give the same kind of print. in France I buy my lino and tools from Joop Stoop in Paris- they are print making specialists.

I use water based textile printing ink- the oil based ones are too messy for fabric and dry too hard. There are several brands available. In Australia I get mine form Kraftkolour and buy the base extender and add my own pigments to create the colours I want- I can also add more pigment to make the colour more dense. Also ambient temperature plays a role in printing- so I find the cool of early morning seems to make better prints than say a warm sunny day.

And last  but not least. I said linocuts for paper seem to have more black than white. The linocuts I make have more white than black so that I can stitch in the space- allowing for creative interpretation and adding an extra factor of colour and texture with stitch to the  linocut image. And I also print on  hand dyed fabric so sometimes the texture of the hand dyeing plays a role in the final print. Being able to stitch my linocuts has opened up a whole new world of ideas for me- and I am really glad that it seems to have done the same for other people- given the enthusiasm with which the Sentinelle project and Medieval project were received.Also having more white space than black space means the actual print on the fabric stays softer and is therefore easier to print and therefore stitch.

So here are some of the linocuts I have made this year and stitched this year. I have also been working on trying to make a name stamp for myself- still not sure but getting there. Most are stitched by hand but there are a few which have been stitched by machine.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


This year seems to have been  the year of angel encounters. I have been ruminating on my next book Musing in Textile:Italy and one of the images that surfaces on a regular basis, in the Italian encounters I have had is the image of an angel. My friend Ada Melegari also thought I should make a linocut angel image, and the idea has been hopping about in my head since. So I finally set to and made an angel linocut. As usual my first trial print was on newspaper, and then I have printed various ones on fabric. The image measures 22 cm x 15 cm. The orange/turquoise one has been printed on a hand dyed vintage  table napkin .I only have four of these available.

You can purchase the "angel" hand printed fabric from me and I have put a Paypal button for ease of purchase ( at the bottom of my post). I have made them all the same price even though the table napkin is a larger piece of fabric- but then- the first to buy has just a bit of luck. If you don't see a colour just ask me as I will be printing more. The angel has been printed by hand, from a linocut I have carved, on fabric that has been hand dyed.The price for the print and postage is $17AUS

I wanted to share some of the images of angels I have encountered this last year. starting with one from William Kentridge's exhibition in Milano that I was lucky to see.

The next two images are from the museum next to the Duomo in Milan and are stained glass

And some angelic encounters from the Pinacoteca in Siena.

I have also  created a Paypal  button for the Aussie Bush Project on the Aussie Bush Project  page

Below is the button to purchase an Angel panel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Aussie Bush Project

It is full steam ahead on the Aussie Bush Project which will commence it's exhibition life next year in May 2017. I will post more details about the schedule as soon as I have them to hand. I have finished the last and final linocut to be a part of the project and will be putting the different colours I have on the Aussie Bush Project page later today. I have also created Paypal buttons for each of the lino prints that is available for purchase ( you do need to tell me colour though) to make it easier to purchase and you don't need to go through the process of emailing me.

I have called the last linocut  Blackwoods Dancing with Mountain Ash as earlier this year when I went out for an early morning reconoitre I was enchanted by the swirling twirling blackwoods which seemed to be dancing with the tall and straight mountain ash trees whose foliage was all the way up in the sky- it was such a happy idea that trees should be dancing with each other!

The print measures 22 cm x 45 cm and has been hand printed onto hand dyed fabric.So now to head downstairs and begin printing!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Playing with the Q20 Bernina

My second and last day in Florence I spent visiting the Battista near the Duomo, which has long been closed for restoration. Part of the entry ticket also included entry to the Museo di Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the climb of the  Duomo itself (but given the queues I decided to leave it for another day). The Battista itself was a treat, the inclination to lie on my back and just stare up into the spectacular mosaics was almost overwhelming, and the tiled floor was spectacular.

 Then onto the Museo itself, where to my great delight they had on display the embroideries designed by Antonio del Pollauiono (also hidden from view for awhile). The embroideries were made with a technique no longer used as far as I know- which involved laying gold thread and then stitching through and over with silk thread. The embroideries themselves were executed by various embroiderers it is thought and were once part of vestments.They were difficult to photograph as they were placed in specially lit and mounted glass display cases and unfortunately there was no book. The best I could do was to get a detail shot.

After Florence I went to visit some family friends who live near Desanzano. Our parents were friends and Ada , who is also an artist and I have become friends over the years. It is always a delight spending some time with them and experiencing Italian life, they also  have a small Bed and Breakfast called Il Martino. Ada Melegari has made some beautiful fresco style paintings and we have found we share a love of images with angels. Two of Ada's artworks are below.

Whilst there i was also in pomegranate heaven, as they have a large number of the trees in their garden, and one morning the light was just beautiful so that the  colour of the fruit against the yellowing foliage was stunning.

Whilst  travelling i did do some hand stitching- embroidering a small linocut print of a coffee pot- I am also sharing an image of  the back of this little embroidery as slowly with time the backs of my embroideries seem to be improving. I use very simple stitches.

Then back to Le Triadou where the last remaining grapes after the vendange offer a few sweet mouthfulls on morning walks. It has been incredibly dry in the south of France and then apparently there was a very bad hail storm in August resulting in a much diminished grape harvest.

And then it was onto Toulouse to demonstrate on the Bernina Q20 for Quilts and Patch. I had a lot of fun on the machine and really just went a bit mad with ideas even though I only had variegated thread available to use ( i had forgotten to take some of my own threads). I also got to meet  Alfonsina Uriburu who is very creative with the Bernina Q24 and caught up with my friend Christine Escanes, who trains many of the Bernina dealers in France and elsewhere and who has more technical know how on Bernina machines and feet than anyone I know. If you want to know how to optimise use of your machine she is the person to ask for a workshop!

 Just a little sample of some of the things I stitched up on the Q20;

  I have finally finished the large linocut tree print quilt I started just before I left France in July. I didn't take it back to Oz with me so  I finished it whilst demonstrating in Ste Marie aux Mines. The large tree linocut is available from me( and i will be dyeing up fabric and printing more this week)

 The photo on the right was  on a morning walk near the village of Moux. I was struck by how similar the detail shot of the  quilt and the scene were apart form the smashing blue of the sky in the photo.

I will be creating the Aussie Bush Project page in the next few days- it will tour in 2017 and 2018.If you are interested please contact me.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Phew, Finally a Few Days to Unwind

The last two months seem to have been a whirlwind of  planes, trains and busses , quilt  and craft events in between ,and dyeing and printing and making new linocuts and actually making two quilts whilst demoing for Bernina France at the Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork at Ste Marie aux Mines,that I felt exhausted. Finally I have a few days to unwind because, I  have not had a day off since the beginning of August. And then because I found an exceptionally good deal for accommodation in Florence I find myself back here. I had intended to do things cultural yesterday after a visit to the Fabriano shop, but instead found myself engaged with the more prosaic side of the city - food and wine! But nothing is as it seems in this city.

I was out and about relatively early yesterday, but as the weather is stunning- bright and sunny it is not great for photographing. Walked past the Basilica di San Lorenzo

 I am always bemused by people around the facsimile statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio- most people simply ignore it- everyone is in such a rush to get to the queues for the Uffizi or to crush amongst the crowd on the Ponte Vecchio that but few stop to admire this most highly revered of human forms by Michelangelo- even the facsimile is pretty impressive!

But all good cultural intentions aside I decided to just walk around and enjoy the sunshine, and a coffee and a lovely lunch at a favourite restaurant.And then do some more walking.

There is relatively little graffiti in Florence- I guess it gets cleaned off, but one thing that does appear is a kind of graffiti poster on some of the utility doors/hatches. These seem to change over time with the ones this year being different to the ones from last year.

The posters appear in different colours and in different spots around the city. I am not sure what the significance is of the snorkeling mask?

Then onto a favourite restaurant  Toscanella Osteria on the left side of the Arno ( depending on which direction you are coming from) I found this little restaurant last year when I spent a month in Florence. It's day menu is exceptional value, always freshly cooked and changing every day and the ordinary menu also has many enticing dishes. I loved it for it's ambience and the friendliness of the wait staff and as I returned there several times. I got talking to the owner Fabrizio Gori- who it turned out, is one of Florence's living artists.He has been involved in many projects over the years ( but like many of Florence's living artists there is little internet presence of their work ) and now he has returned to the profession of his parents. The  restaurant is housed in the building that was the birthplace of Bruneleschi, and the decor  pays homage to this as well as  showcasing many of  Fabrizio's paintings and a delightful array of lamps. The wait staff are the same as they were last year, always a good sign, and I simply enjoy going there because largely the locals eat out at this restaurant. Fabrizio collaborated with several other  Florentine artists to recreate the book about Pinochio- all hand printed and bound into a book the shape of the nose of the famous puppet and in the collection of MOMA. There is even a library of artist's books along one wall of the restaurant.

At the suggestion of Fabrizio I went to see the Incredible Florence multimedia presentation at the deconsecrated church Santo Stefano al Ponte. I wasn't sure what to expect as I find multimedia presentations can be a bit over rated ( apart from William Kentridge of course) but found this one fascinating, as in 45 minutes it traced the history of this fascinating city. One thing that kind of  stood out for me was, though the Medici were tough and despotic, they viewed art and culture as being an important part of their rule to enrich the city as well as their rule- so they gathered around them some of the greatest artists in the western canon of art- something that might be pointed out to more mediocre embodiments of power of the present day- for their foresight still provides enlightenment to students of art of the present and indeed income for the city which they were so instrumental in shaping. A 500 year legacy is not bad!

And last but not least- a coffee shop- yes I know bars and coffee are the heart and soul of the Italian morning ( and cornetto's con crema), but this coffee shop is a little different. I have found myself staying in a part of Florence, that isn't touristy though not that far from the pedestrian precinct of the old city.  The shop looked enticing and upon discussion with the barista it turns out that his passion for coffee is quite different to most  Italian coffee places- his is a passion for blends and new blends and sourcing the finest coffee beans and selling his own blends and roasting.It turns out that he learnt some of this passion in Melbourne- he says it opened his eyes to what coffee could be and so he has brought it back to Florence and has established Caffetteria Piansa. I did try the coffee of course- and the filtered coffee was delicious ( what not the espresso???, but he assured me this his filtered coffee was the best way to experience the subtleties of flavour). However it was also evening, and I had done a lot of walking so i also decided an apero was in order- which comes  accompanied by a selection of savouries at little extra cost!