Friday, June 27, 2008

Mini Tifaifais

Caravan Moments- Blue green For sale $60 Us inclusive of postage ( measures approximately 8 inches square)

Pomegranate Tifaifai for Sale $60Us inclusive of postage ( approx 8 inches square)

Pomegranate tifaifai For sale $60 Us inclusive of postage ( approx 8 inches Square)
And the 175,000th visitor was someone from Slough in the United Kingdom using British Telecom as their service provider. I hope you can work out who you are! and if it's you email me as I will be sending you a little something.
There is still no polish on the slab- arghhh- I left a desperate phone call this morning. It is so frustrating trying to find things that you need for your work. I spent an hour searching for my printing stamps and lino-cuts and still haven't located them,
The only work I can make is small work or hand work- the area in which i sew is too small to handle a biggish quilt. Someone is lending me their house for a couple of days, but then I have to lug everything over there and then back again. But it will at least give me some time to stitch a biggish quilt.Before I used to sew these in the shed.
I shall also be teaching in the South of France on 10-11 Septemeber 2008 at Salleles d'Aude at Centre Europeen du Patchwork
as follows:
Stage par Dijanne Cevaal
mercredi 10 et jeudi 11 septembre 2008- 9h30 à 17h3070€ 1 jour,130€ les 2 jours Repas et matériel de teinture compris.Premier jour : teinture par transfert pour de petites quantités.Deuxième jour : matelassage et application à la machine à coudre. Apprentissage et perfectionnement du piqué libre.Et biensûr toujours les conseils d’une grande artiste australienne ! Votre place est réservée à réception de votre paiement par chèque. Vous pouvez choisir l’un ou l’autre jour selon les thèmes ou suivre le stage sur les 2 jours.Le stage sera annulé une semaine avant (mardi 2 septembre)si le nombre minimum de participantes n’était pas atteint et votre chèque vous sera retourné.
The Centre is lovely an old converted wine cellar- with dedicated "textile" exhibition space downstairs where Marie shows textiles from her own collection in lots of different genres and exhibition space upstairs with changing exhibitions four times a year. I shall be having an exhibition there in 2010 with a painter. The Languedoc Rousillon region really appeals to me and I always love going there.I believe that my fathers family from a long time ago may have come from the region .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Waiting and Waxing Lyrical( wordy perhaps)

I am still waiting for the guy to come and polish my slab- it is so frustrating- I have such a lot of work to do and nowhere really to work, plus I would really like to move in there- it's frustrating being "trapped" in a house which for many reasons i don't want to be in.The shed and slab were supposed to have happened in march and it is now the end of June! Every morning i get up and hope, and then as the day dwindles it certainly isn't very good motivation for creating work.

Yesterday i forced myself to actually do some doodling in my journal- poor abandoned thing these last months- sometimes going through the motions, any motion can bring something else.I relooked at my mind map I created last year and thought I could prise something out of there , something new. In my travels I was fascinated by the mashrabiya on older buildings, the enormous worn wooden doors studded with steel bolts of the khans and fortresses,the colours of Syrian woven textiles and the very geometric patterning of much of the tiling work seen in buildings . Such exactitude in geometry is not one of my strong points ( why I abandoned piecing many years ago) but what i do like, is when you bend the geometry and make it wonky it still has the radiance of geometry.So I drew the sketch above- I am thinking horse blanket colours- deep indigo and rusty browns and terracotta- I am thinking countering the wonky geometry with circular mark making. Then the other day I dyed just the right colours- the blue deep and black blue the teraccota enough deep redness in it and so I made this top yesterday. I am not sure it is complete yet- but the stitching will echo some of the circular lines I drew in the sketch- just haven't decided quite what colour and the how of it ( couching maybe?). But then by happy co-incidence ( serendipity) this top somehow matches my travellers blanket- and is a nice continuation of the story- entering the doorways of other lands, other imaginings and other cultures. But it is also, the organic grid that marries them together.So I think these two pieces belong together.

Today sometime, my 175000th visitor will pass my blog portal ( I installed the sitemeter counter well before the neoworks one). I am continually amazed that people continue to stop by, leave comments, offer such encouragement and good wishes,and generally create quite a different kind of community offered by on-line groups. And whilst many people don't comment- and there are lurkers here like there are on on-line groups, sitemeter does allow me to see where you come from. So i know for example that I have an occasional visitor from the town where I was born - Anna Paulowna- this offers me a strange kind of thrill- having left Anna Paulowna at the age 0f 9 going into the disconnectedness of migration, it is kind of nice to think that in that town where I first learned my langauage, where I encountered my first love of land ( Lost in Translation- Eva Hoffman) that there is someone in that town who connects to this other side of the world where I found myself. I love seeing where you all come from- and would one day love to make a "cyber" blanket- scraps from each of the countries that have visited made into a whole- the world really - that shows that boundaries are a result of a lack of imagination and empathy- that at heart what holds our hands and minds busy are the concerns of family, of making and of sharing.

I also would love to do another artists residency somewhere. I have applied for quite a few over the years but never been successful, part of the problem being it needs to be funded and also not many residencies in the field of textiles. Does anyone know of any residency programs for textiles? And in this mode- I am thinking if the shed happens and my house, that I may well offer someone the opportunity to come and work here for a few weeks next year- as my shed will be a functioning studio( or that is the intent) Does anyone know of a carvan that might be for sale for a vey modest price or for a swap?

Oh and if i can work out who my 175000visitor is there will be a little something waiting for you ( haven't quite decided what yet - perhaps some hand dyed fabric)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Forest Fabrics

Winter Forest #1 for sale $40US inclusive of postage
Winter Forest #2 For sale $40US inclusive of postage
I dyed some more forest fabrics today- these are very wintery with dark moody colour and are a bit greener than in the photos ( usually my camera takes reasonably accurate photos colour wise so don't know what happened there)

I also thought I would post a photo of my Banksia quilt which was in Across Australia and which travelled widely. I have decided to sell it if anyone is interested in an effort to raise some funds. I did have a $1500 US price tag on it but as the end of financial year is looming I will sell it for $1250 ( it measures about 1 metre by 120 cm long). The quilt is constucted with a hand painted background for the tree overlaid with lutradur, cut back and heavily stitched. The banksia pods were hand drawn and then made into a gocco screen ( similar to thermofax) and then printed onto fabric, and there is a tie dyed panel.

Jude from Spirit Cloth asked how I did the travellers blanket. It starts as a story- most of my quilts do.It is the story of a traveller on one of the caravans travelling the silk road. The traveller is male and is emulating the travels of Ibn Battutah but in a much more modest way( who travelled to the far east from Morocco starting in 1325). My traveller is a textile merchant and far from rich. He cannot write, so collects scraps of fabrics to help remember the journey but to also help remember the textile. As textile ,printings and dyeings were jealously guarded at that time my traveller has to be wily- he begs scraps from the various different textiles he encounters ( though of course being a merchant he also does purchase fabric to take back to his homeland) and shows how he sews them into a blanket to keep him warm and safe for his journey- his personal memory blanket. So I am using scraps of my own fabric utilising all sorts of different techniques and sewing them onto muslin that has been pre dyed into a grid pattern- to create another pattern of sorts. The scraps are then sewn down with whatever thread suits. The batting is actually curtain flannel ( name escapes me and which i bought in England) which has been hand dyed and the backing is also muslin- this makes the whole rather soft and very drapey- and the fabric has an interesting texture under your hand where it's been sewn. I am using very simple stitches- as my traveller is not an embroiderer.

I think my car was having a bad hair day ( perhaps bad wire??) yesterday- tried a number of things and nada, the engine wouldn't turn over. I thought I would give it another try this morning- and she sputtered into life- thank goodness. And finally the winter solstice has passed- now the inevitable wait for the days to get longer. I am not a good winter person.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Washing Machine Felting

I made some washing machine felt on the weekend- I am still trying to work out how to get something the size I want and the texture I want. This piece I felted onto some light weight dyed muslin. The texture on the back is quite interesting. Now I am running out of the felting wool, but it will have to wait as my car won't start- hope it is nothing too serious but it is a nuisance as I live 22 kms from town. I really need to get a new car but was hoping it would hang in there until I get the daunting house mortgage sorted.

Have also been waiting for the guy to come polish the slab- I had hoped it would be today as once that is dry I can move my working tables back in there and get rolling with all the other quilts I need to make for my exhibition. I am just a little bit over waiting especially with so much work still to be done.

Decided to keep going with the travellers blanket after the encouraging comments. It is like guilty pleasure sitting and hand stitching- I am getting to like it better and I can feel the stories growing as the work grows- there is an awful lot to do.

And I will definitely be going to Ste Marie aux Mines this year - my friend Laura from Trapsuutjies will have a stand in the Centre Commerciale- and I will be helping out as well as selling some embroideries and postcards.There will be a few of us helping out!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not a Very Creative Day

Foiled Pomegranates- for sale $60US inclusive of stage.

I seem to have frittered away the entire day without a creative thought and very little done! I was really wanting to be working on a new biggish quilt, but with all my work tables out of the shed waiting for the slab to cure there is nowhere to work on fabric. I picked up my Traveler's Blanket again- I had put it aside as i was not sure i thought it was working, and whether I wasn't wasting my time. I am still not sure- I like it a bit better with the background quilting in place- but it is an awful lot of stitching if I am not happy with the end result! I will ruminate on it some more.

I tried to do some research by going through my books on Palestinian costume- I love some of the colours that are used on the older more traditional cross stitch embroideries. The first book "Palestinian Costume" is by Jehan Rajab ,the other book "Palestinian Embroidery" was given to me by Tania Nasir, who co-wrote the book with Widad Kawar, when I was in Ramallah in the Palestinian Territory in 2006. Whilst embroidered dresses are made throughout the region and into Syria each area does have its distinctive motifs and colourings. I would love to see Widad Kawar's collection in Amman,Jordan of the dresses. Looking through the books made me quite sad- to realise that things have worsened since I was there. The dense cross stitch embroidery speaks of a patience and a certain timelessness that cannot be denied.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Syrian Lamp

Forest #4 For sale $40 US inclusive of postage
I am not sure what to name this little piece ( any suggestions?)- it is inspired by an antique Syrian lamp I was given in Damascus. It is lino cut printed with transfer dyes onto lutradur and then machine stitched.For sale $U 60 inclusive of postage ( measures approx 8 inches square)

One of the things I usually do a lot of ,is keeping a journal- it is mainly in black and white but these last months I have not felt much inspired to draw let alone write anything. Rhodia have brought out a new Moleskinesque journal and I must admit I would love to have one of these, because not only do I journal but I am also a bit of a fruitcake about collecting journals and fountain pens. Anyway there is some journals offered as a prize at Black Cover and I can't resist throwing my hat in the ring. As to fountain pens- in France it is possible to buy cheapish fountain pens in the stationery section of supermarkets as the fountain pens are used in schools though that seems to be on the decline ( unfortunately and the selection of fountain pens is dwindling). One of the first things i do when I get to France is go to the supermarket and buy a fountain pen with which to write. I do have several Lamy fountain pens and in the 80's converted quite a number of fellow solicitors at theAustralian Government solicitors office to use Lamy's for writing, but sometimes it is possible to pick up a very nice cheap fountain pen in the supermarket!

Today I have to work on the last project for the Lovely Lutradur book which I am writing with Marion Barnett. We hope to have the cd version out by 1 July- so I had better get a wiggle on.If you would like a copy let me know.The cd will retail for 14 pounds sterling- will have a number of different projects and will have quite a bit of eye candy! I am hoping I can find my foiling glue which is packed away with the rest of my studio stuff in a tent. I can't wait to be able to move all of my stuff into the shed!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Forest #1 I metre hand dyed forest fabric $40 US inclusive of postage
Forest #2 $40 US inclusive of postage
Forest #3 $40 US Inclusive of postage- I love the almost cicrcular area in the front- it is like a meeting place in the woods. SOLD
Pomegranates 8 inches square $60 US inclusive of postage ( these fit Ikea shadow boxes) SOLD

Back to the drawing board and making- I am very mindful of the fact that i need to turn stuff over in order to pay for all the work that still needs doing on the shed not to mention building the house. Kristin asked what will happen to my old house- my ex keeps that ,he did not want to move out, so I had to find a way to get a house.I did think of renting, but rentals around my little village are hard to find and rentals in Colac are very expensive, so whilst the whole thing seems at times daunting it is the best solution even though it will take longer. I can't wait to have a design wall though, I have never had one as my workspace has always been small and in the last year miniscule. have also just booked my flight to Europe and as I am teaching late August unfotunately I copped peak season fares for that.

I have had several emails from people asking whether the small pieces are hand or machine stitched and what thread I use. The pieces are all machine stitched often with double thread through my needle. I use rayon machine embroidery threads ( I often get Victory machine rayon threads from Thread Studio in Perth) or I buy the 5000 metre cobs from Embroidery Source in Fairfield Victoria ( You have to be a business to buy from them) I like machine embroidery threads as they have a lovely sheen.

I have been procrastinating what will be my next big piece for my exhibition in Munich. I still have the pomegrante tifaifai's to stitch- but I know what to do with those- and the day village scene, but I need to think of some more work and with everything that's been going on it is hard to be creative.

And i got the loveliest card today- it definitely made me feel a lot better! As a one woman band- or an ABM ( All byMyself- a phrase coined by Fiona Hammond) person you do sometimes fall into dips wondering whether you have got it right or whether what you have to offer inspires people or appeals to people. But then I got this from one of my students at Braidwood; Mary says amongst other things " I find your classes inspiring and stimulating giving me lots of ideas for future projects as well as the two I actually did at the time. You are also encouraging and inclusive- a great teacher. I know that the three friends who came with me were also delighted" If you read my blog Mary thank you for taking the time to write in the old fashioned way with lovely card and thank you for making my day!

I have two teen birthdays coming up next week- how fast the time goes!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Shed/Studio Has a Slab!!!

Finally- the slab is here- now it has to cure. It is almost 3 years since my shed was built ( see my 18 July 2005 post and the kit had actually been purchased one year prior to that) and I have had to wait all that time as it's been one thing after another and a bit of a nightmare altogether if I am perfectly honest- but now it is here. I can set up my work space and unpack all of my studio which has been packed in a tent these last months. If things with the house go well, then I may be teaching summer workshops from it this summer! Textile escapades in Gellibrand! What a great relief that would be!

The little cross stitch piece was a day off exercise- hand dyed silks stitched through lutradur and then mounted onto cotton- just something to do on a Sunday, it measures 8 inches by 8 inches and will be for sale when I finish the last of the stitching. My daughter and I did clear away all the debris from the trees that had to be lopped whilst I was away, where the house will go- it was a big job and it will make a big bon-fire- there will be a few cobwebs from the past thrown into that fire that's for sure!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Silk Road to Palmyra

Thank you for all the kind comments about my village scene quilt. I think it will be alright to exhibit and fit in with the other work.

I have shown a photo of this quilt before- showing just the foiling on the lutradur and the damascen silk strip. I decided it needed hand stitching in the lighter acqua/turquiose areas but I had been waiting on silk threads- can't make a quilt about a silk road destination and not have silk thread! I did do some hand stitching awhile ago but it is very densely stitched so it takes time to have anything to show. ( I will pull out the darker hand stitched area- as i think i will place some printing of aramaic writing in those areas- to suggeest the layers of the ruins in Palmyra- roman and aramaic) I took some photos of inscriptions on an aramaic tomb- the writing was really dense and textural and very ornamental.

I seem to have caught a dratted cold- so hand stitching is just the right activity- sitting in a warm room. My sewing machine seems to have developed a cold too- it is refusing to co-operate today , so back to more hand stitching.

And it's official- I will in the future be co-leading some creative arts tours for Creative Arts- i am really excited about this as their ideas and philosophy coalesce with so many of my own. This is the blurb I had to put in about why I do what i do;

I had to provide a bit of a travel CV:
Languages;Fluent in Dutch, some French ,German and Italian.
Travels1989- travels in Europe
1990- 6months of travels through Egypt, Africa ( Kenya to Morocco-through Tanzania, Burundi, Congo, Central African republic, Cameroun,Nigeria, Niger, Alegeria and Morocco) 6 months of travels throughoutEurope.
2000 Three month residency at Chateau de Chassy near Chateau Chinonin the Morvan region of France ( side trip to Italy)
2000-2008 regular trips to Europe for teaching purposes and exhibitionpurposes ( usually twice a year) focusing on France and theNetherlands.
2006- travels in Egypt and Syria, United Arab Emirates , Kuwait (with my 14 year old daughter-9 weeks)
2007- travels in Syria ( with my 11 year old daughter)- 4 weeks

Who I am and what i do:
A life in pursuit of textiles, travel and adventure, with the odd doseof good food and enjoying the ambience of place sums up my passions-ohh and books. I am a practising textile artist, enthralled by the possibilities of textile, the history of textile and its cultural imperatives- to understand the maker, know what their hands know and delight in the visual dance of colour, line and texture.
I teach creative textile courses embracing many facets of textile practice and am much inpsired by the textile culture of third world countries. Once textiles inspired the great caravan routes thattraversed the known lands , silk spoke of richness and wealth, courts employed artisans to create fine embroideries in threads of gold andsilk, and india printed fabrics were forbidden in the courts ofeurope under threat of death. This rich and exotic history still exists- largely shunned by " industrialised" west which has seen the maker separated from their creation.It is my aim to revere the practises that still exist, to make textile a rich experience in daily life.

Books that will inspire the journey ( Syria); all listed on my favourite book website Book Depository

Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological MemoirAgatha Christie
Edition: New ed
It is little known that Agatha Christie's husband Max Mellor was aninspired archeologist who spent some considerable time in Syria asdid Christie in often inhspitable conditions.

Monuments Of Syria: A Historical Guide This book is a must for anyone is interested in archeological sitesand the wonderful monuments and ancient sites still in existence inSyria. Burns was a diplomat in Syria and fell in love with the place

Damascus: A History Ross Burns

Samarkand Amin Maalouf Edition: New ed

Amin Maalouf writes in French and has won the prestigious PrixGoncourt and even in translation his books are wonderful tales of apast and glorious history . Samarkand follows the very eventful life of Omar Kayyam ( lived around 1207 and reputed to have been a tentmaker by trade) author of the Rubayyait which he was ordered to write in a blank book as punishment for intrigue against the sultan

Balthasar's Odyssey Amin Maalouf Edition: New ed
Another kind of journey in pursuit of a rare and old book TheHundreth Name through Syrian and Turkish lands to Lond on and back.

My Name Is Red Orhan PamukEdition: New ed

Snow Orhan Pamuk

Istanbul: Memories Of A City Orhan Pamuk

Embroidery From Palestine (fabric Folios) Shelagh Weir

From The Holy Mountain: A Journey In The Shadow Of Byzantium William Dalrymple

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Village Scene Finished!

I have finally finished the village scene. I ened up painting the houses with silver iridescent shiva sticks in order to lighten them up in the moonlight and that seems to have made the houses much more apparent. I had wanted to dye the other scene but realised that the scene had stars and a moon-hardly a daytime scene.So I will have to paint another scene.

And my slab looks like it's coming- the rio and water proofing course has been laid. So fingers crossed that the slab will actually go in this weekend- and when it's dry I shall finally have somewhere to work and live and I can get on with my art.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back, but....

I photographed these interesting looking plants on the way home from Adelaide- does anyone know what they are called- I know they are not xantheria's. They looked almost sculptural with their twisted seed pods. The seed pods also seemed to be home to a number of white housed snails.

Had fun teaching in Adelaide- did dyeing and printing for four days.However I left h my workshop notes home as I bumped my big toe on the way out the door to Adelaide and snapped the nail in half- ouch! I could not wear shoes for three days, and I think holding my foot upright on the accelerator actually helped with the throbbing!

Don't know what is happening about the house- got a rather cryptic message recently from the project home people- suppose I shall have to ring them up!I just need things to go smoothly especially as I am away September and some of October. Unfortunately I am not teaching at Ste Marie aux Mines this year, I was hoping to have done at least a day if not two- ah well! So if anyone would like a workshop in Europe on the weekend of 19-21 September 2008 let me know- it seems I now have time!

Tomorrow it's head down and tail up- I have to make a lot of work for my exhibition time is starting to run out!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Braidwood and Deep Forests

Deep Forest #1 For Sale $40US inclusive of postage
Deep Forest #2 For Sale $40 US inclusive of postage

These were some of the results of the workshops I taught in Braidwood. The first image is of a quilt made by Carmel last year, which she brought to show us on Saturday.It is so lovely seeing pieces well onto the way to being finished. I love the detailing she has done with the gum blossoms which balances in a lovely way with the fineness of her design. The other is of fig leaves by Mary ( Mary came to the workshop last year and this year as well and brought friends with her) and as you can see she has put her own spin on how the design was laid out with great results.

I have to prepare all my stuff to take to Adelaide for workshops starting on Thursday this week. I had hoped some white fabric I had ordered last week would arrive today so i could dye more fabric- but it didn't and tomorrow I am busy as I have to drive my father and his partner to the Women's Hospital in Melbourne ( which will take all day)It will take all day to drive to Adelaide on Wedensday so unfortunately I won't be dyeing any more fabric .It is one of the down sides of living in the country- everything has to be sent ( or picked up) and you are reliant on deliveries etc arriving in a timely matter. At least all my dyeing stuff arrived today!

And my lichen sample was worked on romeo a water soluble material( I can't find my other water soluble stuff I use as it is packed away somewhere) . I snipped lots of fabric laid it between two layers then worked the stitching over the top. As Monique noted I am not a wild fan of variegated threads, but the Valdani variegations are usually in the same colour family and subtle- so I do like these threads a lot.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Creative Arts Safaris!

I spent Friday and Saturday meeting up with Fiona Wright of Creative Arts Safaris to discuss the possibility of my conducting textile tours to far off and wonderful places,some time in the future. Fiona has already been doing this in India and Vietnam with her partner Parveen, exposing enthusiasts to the wonderful textiles and colours of these places as well as the cultural and culinary delights- all with the aim of supporting sustainable communities. Check out the website for the tours they offer, their philosophy, reading lists and lots of other things. I did my masters degree with Fiona ( the distance learning one so I had met Fiona on one of our touching base with supervisors weeks) and we decided that we should meet face to face in order to discuss future global textile treasure seeking, and I am happy to say i shall be doing some tours with them( especially the Middle east and perhaps Africa)- so watch this space as it takes time to get the logistics into place!

Off course I had to share an iconic photo of Sydney- the Sydney Opera House juxtaposed with an old Manly ferry.Isn't the building wonderful?

The stitched piece is a "lichen" sample i have made of Valdani threads for Threadstudio in Perth- these threads are such fun- the 35 weight thread really adds dimension and the lovely subtle variegations reflect nature so well! This piece was inspired by the lichen photo i posted sometime in April.