Monday, June 27, 2011

De Fil en Fil and More Travellers' Blanket

My sentinel quilts and some other work will be shown at De Fil en Fil  at Chabeuil in France on the weekend  of 22-24 July. I would so love to have been there but unfortunately can't be there. I will be  teaching at the Mornington Peninsula Patchworkers Inc. Guild Retreat.

I will also be teaching linocutting and printing at Jiddi's Patch on 9 July- there are still some places in  this workshop. It is a workshop that looks at how to make linocuts, actually making one and then printing with linocuts- I will bring plenty of my own linocuts to play with as well.It's a great way to make your own unique fabric and even cards. I use the technique a lot in my own work.

I have been stitching away on the Travellers' Blanket. There is still time to book into the on-line workshop which starts on the 13th of August. Information for the workshop is in my previous post .

I went to my mothers on the weekend and admired this unfurling fern frond- nothing like that in this garden where we are living now- it's times like this I miss the bush and the forests which were part of our lives for 15 years. I don't think I am a a city girl at heart- small villages yes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Travelling and Blankets

I have been working on the khadi cloth traveller's blanket and it is quite addictive- as I sit and sew I think I will just do another one and another one. The stitching is simple so it's easy to be lost in thought and think back on the wonderful trip I had to Syria and Europe and all the little stories that I encountered.At the moment I am filling in the tie dyed circles I made in the khadi cloth which I dyed a darkish blue. The paler fabric on the right hand side is also khadi cloth but has coloured threads and a slightly larger weave. I have used it for the back of this blanket.
I wondered for ages what to do with this piece of cloth as I did not tie dye it all over, but the softness of the khadi, the slight graduations in the spun thread of the hand woven fabric and the way the dyes absorbs into the fibres are all interesting. And so each tie dye is calling for its own treatment. I don't set out with a plan in the stitching , it just builds as I stitch and  as the colours demand.In the areas where there is no tie dyes I intend to applique some sari silk remnant which Fiona Wright sent to me - these are so colourful.

The on-line class for the travellers blanket will definitely go ahead- I have quite a number of people express their interest.The cost of the workshop will be $50 and will cover a 4 month period with access to a group for discussion and sharing work and stories!

This is the description:This class explores hand stitching and creating fragments of memory. It is inspired by the idea of the silk road and the great travellers ,like Marco Polo who travelled the road in order to source silk, eastern spices and other treasure. If you travelled that road and you could not write but wanted to keep memories of the  fabrics and silks you encountered, and wanted to remember the patterns and stitches and wanted to keep warm at the same time- what better way then to sew fragments onto a blanket- a visual aide de memoire. The texture is created with simple running stitch and the embroidery  on the fragments of fabric likewise employ simple stitches. This piece is about the rhythm of the stitching and to create decorative effects.
The layers have been created using hand dyed muslin and flannel- this gives the piece a lovely drape
We will spend the first session dyeing the muslin and flannel which is utilised in this piece. The muslin has been dyed ,using a shibori  technique in order to create the underlying grid . Then the stitching will begin!All other fabrics are scraps left over from  various projects.

Or if you would prefer to use khadi cloth- I can sell  it to you  but you will need to contact me.

In the spirit of sharing stories, on my second last day in France we went to Fontainebleau- the "small" home largely built by Francis I ( who was a great patron of the arts) and added to by various other French emperors  over the years.The photo collage is of various rooms in the palace as well as some of the entry ports and the small lake which was used for leisure activities. The rooms  are highly decorated with  fabulous chandeliers, tapestries or silk adorning the walls and four poster beds that look as if you are lying inside a jewellery box. Every surface is decorated, and so decorated that you marvel  at all the skill , workmanship  and art and you wonder how many people it took to achieve all this- quite a bit different to the blank white or taupe walls seen in so many display homes now a days with the huge plasma screen tellie dominating the scene. 

In my more proletariat days i shunned visiting such palaces for their ostentation and luxuriant excess of the incredibly rich- but when I think of all the fine workmanship, all done by hand; the marvellous rich texture of seeing in such a place; of  the artisans and artists that were fostered and who created this  incredible interplay of decorated ceilings, walls and panelling, carpets, curtains and tassels, furniture, chandeliers, paintings and vases I am aware that our world is so much the poorer for having lost so many of these incredible skills.The skills of the hand- see I knew I could somehow tie Fontainebleau into a traveller tableau......


Friday, June 17, 2011

Stitching a Khadi Cloth Travellers' Blanket

I finally finished all my paperwork  for taxes which should have been done months ago but got interrupted by various things. I hate doing the paperwork for my business, but once I start it is never as bad as I imagined it would be so I don't know why I put it off like I do. Anyway as a reward I have started stitching another travellers' blanket but this time with circular motifs and on hand dyed khadi cloth, with bumff as batting and khadi backing cloth. At the moment I am decorating the tie dyes of the piece I dyed but on the pieces where there is no tie dye I will work in some of Fiona Wright's sari silks ( from our Pukka Place)

I have also been inspired by the work of  my students at the Travellers' Blanket workshop I have been teaching at Jiddi's Patch here in Geelong. We dyed the fabrics first and then created the  quilt sandwich ( hand dyed muslin and bumff) and then started attaching the squares and stitching in embroidery detail. I could not believe how much work they had done whilst i was overseas and was gobsmacked at some of the wonderful embroidery they had done ( unfortunately the battery of my camera was flat so i can't share some of the wonderful things they had done). There is so much interest in this class that we are starting another class on  Saturday 13 August.I will also  teach the travellers blanket as an on-line course  and will start it at the same date as the real travellers blanket- that is 13 August 2011. The cost for the course will be $50 Aus and will go over a four month period, I will set up a group so we can share our work and discuss- I will also share details of the dyeing process for the blanket and of the stitching of my travellers blanket and any other inspirations and of course stories!. If you are interested please email me. I can be paid via Paypal but please email me first so i can send you an invoice.

I must admit I am in love with colonial knots- I love the texture of them under your hand and I like the way they sit on the surface of the cloth and yet are still soft.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Feel Faceless

Some of you will know that i have been looking for a job since last year ( longer actually as I have been struggling to pay the bills and am getting  nowhere fast- the earnings of a textile artist are meagre at the best of times and right now, as everyone knows, and are likewise feeling the effects of this economic downturn, is not the best of times) and I am feeling totally disheartened and frustrated at the moment. Before I left to exhibit and teach in Europe I had applied for a fellowship at the state Library.. The object of the fellowship is to  use the collection of the library in a substantive way. Quite by accident ( whilst googling for the Ned Kelly Jerilderie Letter) I stumbled upon the incredible Press Dress of Mrs Butters which is in the collection of the  state library. I was so impressed by the  ingenuity shown in  creating the fabric for this dress I thought wouldn't it be wonderful to create another such dress - using digital technology which is wonder of the first decade of the new century and to  create a dress celebrating one hundred years of women's rights by highlighting women who had contributed to the art and culture of the city of Melbourne over that 100 year period. Everyone I talked to about this idea thought it was  a great idea and  something I could bring off ( I also intended to make a catalogue to  showcase the women and the process)....... well guess what......... the idea got the thumbs down from the library........I didn't even get to the referee stage of this idea.

 I  am feeling so frustrated  because  with all the jobs I have applied for and there have been quite some- I haven't got to the interview stage once- I know I can sell an idea if I can talk about it- which I guess means I am not so good at writing proposals ( I have had my resume vetted by professionals and they all seem to think my resumes are fine, I have several for different areas of work). And I couldn't even get a volunteer job at the Geelong Gallery depsite having a Masters of Visual Art & Communication- do you need a Phd to volunteer now????

So I am feeling faceless- a bit like this sentinel portrait I am working on- I didn't realise I had forgotten to stencil in her eyes until I started sewing and thought something didn't look quite right. My other sentinels stayed in France for  Le festival de fil en fil en pays de Chabeuil, les 22,23 et 24 Juillet 2011It would be a real treat if one of them sold, because whilst I have been busy making  the big pieces very few little pieces got made to help things ticking over.

Thank you for your comments on the Jean Cocteau post. I loved seeing the chapel and his house and am so glad that you too enjoyed the little visit!

And i was quite surprised this morning when I checked visitor numbers to my blog ( I usually don't check when I am away) to find that I am 185  visitors off 350,000 visits. If only I could put those kind of stats in job applications! 

So thank you to everyone for your support and visits - it is much appreciated! And I will be keeping an eye on who will be the 350,000th visitor.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Jean Cocteau and Milly la Fôret

Jean Cocteau spent from 1947 ,when he purchased a house until his death in 1963 at Milly la Fôret. The village ( really town) dates from medieval times and older and still has a medieval market structure standing. The house is delightful ,situated overlooking a moat and small towered building and with a large garden. Here Cocteau made some of his most renowned work and indeed some of the rooms  still have their original furnishings along with many desks littered with books and artists' materials. I dream of having such a house... sigh....The top three photos are  Cocteau's desk, his view over the back garden and a view of the  side garden looking towards the house. The gardener was busy cleaning up the garden.

The house  has also had some of the spaces converted to exhibit some of Cocteau's art work and also to show videos of  some of his movies and interviews.

Cocteau also painted a small chapel known as ChapelleSainte Blaise de Simples.

Cocteau is actually buried in the chapel along with his adopted son Edouard Dermit. The Chapel was part of a larger complex devoted to  caring for lepers and was  run by the Knights Templar. All that remained when it was restored, were the chapel walls which were painted by Cocteau with medicinal herbs  and the resurrection. The Chapel is simple, quiet and magical and surrounded by a garden devoted to medicinal herbs. Between the  campanule fausse raiponce and the campanule â feuilles rondes i found this wonderful spiders's web. It wasn't like anything I had seen before- it almost looked like an  extremely fun spun bonded polyester and the water droplets weighed heavy and sat like shining irregular crystals in the web- ohhh to make such fabric  wouldn't it be wonderful? I just have no idea how you would create the droplet effect.