Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy and Safe New Year

I want to wish every one a Happy and Safe New Year!

I have been making more pomegranate cards to sell at the winery next week.I had almost forgotten that we are able to sell small items. So here's hoping some sell as I have to meet accommodation costs in Syria where even modest hotels are quite expensive compared to France.I have to be there and demonstrate at the Gallery for three weeks so the nights really do add up! I will be back to the quilt making tomorrow.

Have a good one!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is this the first quilt or what?

Sometimes you can't see for looking. I am very interested in the history of textiles and of quilts. There is much debate about where quilting emerged, and some very old coptic quilted textiles exist as do some Chinese ones that may date to BC. But as I have been looking at the history of Syria from one of those Time Life books called "The Cradle of Civilization" by Samuel Noah Kramer and looking at the wonderful reliefs- but what do I see??? Is that a quilted textile on the horses' back? Has to be- it is the horse of Assurbanipal an Assyrian King whose reign was well documented in the ruins of Niniveh ( now in Iraq) and who reigned in 7ooBC or there abouts. The Assyrians rode with only cloths covering the backs of their horses- why would the stone mason who carved the relief go into such incredible "quilterly" detail if the textile wasn't quilted?Isn't this exciting to think that so far back they were not only weaving cloth but also embroidering and quilting it?

So of course I set out to make the textile cloth- which I am calling rug for Gilgamesh- I am about halfway through- the silk is about 1.5 metres long by 60 cm wide. I am not sure there is sufficient contrast for much visual effect- in one way there is through texture but I have come so far that I will finish it, but my goodness it has taken soem sewing . The texture is really scrumptious. And Sheila I am using cotton batting- a bit too flat for my liking I would have liked more texture. I usually use Matilda's Own Wool batting ( and I am using their cotton batting too)- it's a great Australian product!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Working with Silk

I spent today dyeing some silk- I seem to have lost my touch dyeing silk, I think I need to thicken the dyes more so that they don't bleed all over and result in little variation.

I have been reading the story of Gilgamesh- the oldest written story, written in cuneiform on clay tablets.It is thought that the tablets date from about 2700BC . The text of Gilgamesh is available as a pdf or on the web.

I want to know more about the history of Syria before I go this time - and I really want to make time to look at the Museum in Damascus. Also I guess I am researching as I want to make some work that evokes someo of the things I encountered on my last visit for Sense of Place. So how does this tie in with silk dyeing? Syria was of course on the silk road from ancient times and was the place that saw much traversing between east and west and Africa. Gilgamesh went on a great journey to discover his own mortality. I am fascinated by the wonderful carved Sumerian reliefs- the patterning and the obviously richly decorated robes and garments worn by the Sumerians. In fact the last time I was at the British Museum I didn't get beyond the Near East rooms- they were stunning, and I couldn't get over the fineness of detail. So keeping in mind the neatness of the carving I set out to make a travel rug for Gilgamesh. It is turning out nothing like I imagined- for a start the colours are different- I thougt rich royal blue ( or lapis lazuli - a semi precious stone much used by the Sumerians and still much loved in Syria today) stitched with red- but the blue came out too purple and not wanting to waste the silk I did a slight mindshift to emerald green. I had also thought handstitching but it wasn't giving me the right texture so back to the machine. The texture that I have created so far is quite wonderful- it feels so readable under my hand.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eye Idols of Tel Brak Finished

I have finished the eye idol quilt. The border with foiled circles I zigzagged quilted- normally this pulls the fabric in and I made allowance for it- however I forgot that I was sewing on poplin rather than the normal homespun weight I use and nope it didn't pull in like normal so I had to do some trimming- I hope hanging it for a day or two will also help it settle. I even put on the binding- one of those jobs I always leave until the 11th hour. Now I can get on with somethign new. And my Christmas present I had ordered myself - a book on Sumer and the Sumerians did not arrive in time for the tree :-(

I want to wish everyone who visits my blog a very very happy Christmas and a very happy and safe New Year. The countries visiting has crept up to 86- I would really love to know who the people are and what you do.

Next week I will spend reviewing what happened this year and setting goals for next year. What type of goals do you set yourself? I know I do want to enter a few more things in Australia than I have in the last few years- I always seem to be away for the deadlines and I am not sufficiently prepared before I leave to send in an early entry. And this last year and next I will need a lot of my quilts for exhibition commitments apart from what I sell. I think I would also really like to make a very big quilt ( well big for me- around the 180 cm mark- I used to make about one a year, but they have always sold quickly so I don't have any on hand)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More Badges

Yesterday was a write off work wise. Family came over for an early Christmas dinner. I have been making more badges, trying different fabrics and combinations of things. You can also tie them to the belt straps of your jeans or to your bag.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Thanks for the comments on the previous post- it is good to know that there are people of like mind out there.

It is hot today and we are expecting more hot weather with northerly winds tomorrow- send a little thought for all those that are affected by the terrible bush fires and hope that they don't get worse with the weather conditions. We are also on level 3 water restrictions from midnight last night- thank goodness we reduced the size of our vegetable garden as we are only allowed to handwater between 8-10 in the morning and the evening on odd days. I have never seen it so dry. We run all our grey water out on the garden. Still the apple trees are dropping fruit and the birds are voracious at the moment- we did not get to see any of our red currants despite netting them.

I have been working on the eye idol quilt, but as it is getting later in the afternoon the hot summer sun comes into my work room and at this time of year it gets uncomfortably hot to work at this time of the day. I am intrigued by these little idols- when I first saw them they all sort of seemed the same- though I drew two different kinds in my journal. The person I was with thought of them as female figures with their heads cut off, but the one I drew in my journal definitely had a hat. Then I found another one that had the smaller image of an idol on its torso- suggestive of a mother and is like they represent little families and as I painted them they did take on quite individual characters. I have painted them using the African painting technique I learned some time ago.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I have updated my Picturetrail site with a new album entitled Works for Sale in an attempt to raise some funds for my forthcoming journeying.Whilst I did get a grant from Ozquilt for which I am very grateful it only goes part of the way to funding the travels of an exhibition. I think this will really be my last time that I do this as it impacts on my family quite heavily not only in terms of money ( because often I have to meet the difference out of my own pocket and in this case I had not quite budgeted how enormous the airline taxes would be or the cost of the forced stopover in Dubai) but also in time. I am away for weeks sometimes months at a time and it takes its toll and my family is still young and I feel has suffered as a result this year.There is also lace work for sale on my Seriously Textile blog .The funding has never run into covering a curating fee, and I don't think there are many quilt curators who actually get a fee, at least none I know of.I enjoy the work but there is a lot of things to do and things to follow up.

I do hope that any of you at a loss of what to do in January, and you are down south that you will join us in fun workshops at Samson Hill Winery which hopefully will raise a bit of funds after paying the teachers and materials. We had a meeting yesterday to brainstorming a few more ideas.All you have to do is pay the workshop fee, bring yourself and we do the rest.The workshops on 10 and 17 January 2007 will definitely go ahead.

I think part of a real problem in the quilting community is that many people think, things come for free. And there are many sharing and giving blogs and websites and groups in real life- however there is an awful lot of work that goes into these things ( just ask anyone who has been on an exhibition committee for a group), and ultimately if no money is forthcoming for bringing great quilts halfway across the world to share, or to share information in a class situation we will end up not having these things. Whilst the internet is great for showing lots of things , it is not the same as seeing some of the wonderful textile work in the flesh.We complain that we are not considered art, that we are at the bottom rung of the echelon , but in a way we are our own worst enemies- good things cost money- that is the way the world is. Friendship in groups is free, and that is why the quilting community is wonderful, but whilst many people are willing to pay out a lot of money for products and the latest gimmicks ,few are willing to support the endeavours of people who try and share the work of some of our exciting artists and add to the experience of viewing textiles. Why is it,that quilting artists always exhibit for no prizes apart from a number of big events ( because it supposedly adds to the stature of the exhibition not to have prizes) have to pay for lots of shipping but rarely receive a benefit of any kind unless they are lucky enough to sell a piece, and if you are really lucky you get to pay entry fees and don't get selected! . For example if you have a photo of your quilt used in a magazine other than a quilting magazine you get paid ( and covers of science magazines can commandd up to $500)- when was the last time a quilt artist got paid to be on the cover of a quilt magazine or indeed to be included in a quilt book? Yes you sometimes are sent the book or magazine ( not always) but you don't get paid. That is fine to a point, because it does promote your work but ultimately the magazine does make a living from its endeavour why should not the artist? Most other professionals get paid for these things as a matter of course. It is time that we do the same for our quilting arists.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Trying to Find the Festive Spirit

I seem to have toally mislaid the festive spirit- but have to find it as there are kids here anxiously awaiting what Santa will bring despite the fact that they have been snooping in the cupboard!

I made this journal cover for a journal to give to a friend who is going overseas tomorrow.I had forgotten how close Christmas is- and well journals are handy when travelling. Oh and when you click on the image nearly always a larger image will come up in a new window.

I will be updating my picturetrail site with new work soon ( or this years work all grouped in one place)- I will link it here when I have done it- it will have new work for sale. I am going through the almost obligatory agonising of raising enough funds to take the latest exhibition Sense of Place to Syria and France. I did get some funding but I still need to cover my hotel accommodation in a very modest hotel in Syria whilst I am there.I think what I need is a patron given funding is so difficult to get!

And I have really got to get into some quilt making! As i need a lot of work for my exhibtion I am having next year in France at La Bourboule from March until September 2007- all up I need about 30 pieces- that is a lot!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Taking Shape

These little eye idols are starting to take shape and take on a life of their own. I think I may have populated them too densely - but I will think on it another night. I sometimes just like things to sit and think about it for awhile- plus another panel will go in as well.

I thought I should update my teaching arrangements in Europe for next year. I have made links for all the contacts if you are interested in attending- you can email them or make contact visa a website.

19 February- 19 March I shall be in Syria installing Sense of Place and being in attendance to do demonstrations and other things.

Then from 20 March until 10 May I will be in France, the Netherlands and England as follows:

24 March until 9 April, I will be at Le Palaiseau atr the 6th Internationsl Patchwork Art Textile. I shall also be teaching there( I will check the dates) I will also be giving a lecture. The workshops is what Smaranda mentioned in her comments on my previous post. Be sure to go and check Smaranda's own work- she makes wonderful things!

April 10 I will be teaching a Patchwork group close to le Palaiseau- free machine quilting (doing smaples from my book Seventy Two Ways). My contact for both events is Christine Moulin.

April 16-19 I shall be teaching at the Stofmeid in Borger Drenthe as follows;
April 16 Tranfer Printing and stitching
April 17-18 Inspiration in Frabircation- making an original piece
April 19 Nature as Inspiation- Borger is a lovely atmospheric village so we will be using the environment as inspiration to make a small piece or several.

April 23 - 26 I will be teaching close to Le Mans
Day 1 Dyeing fabric
Day 2 Using various printing techniques to create your own fabric
Days 3-4 Using the fabrics made on the previous days, creating your own original art piece.

Sometime between 26 April- 4 May I will be teaching near Narbonne( Salleles d'Aude) at Centre Europeen du Patchwork.

5-6 May I will be in England teaching at Sew Creative at Wroxham Barns ( near Norwich)

If you are interested in any of these workshops you can email me by going to my profile- my address is there and I can give you the email address for my contacts.

I will return o home on 10 May. I shall be taking my youngest daughter with me so we hope to see a little of France and Spain.

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's finished

I have been playing around with ideas for a quilt/s about my travels in the middle east earlier this year- things seemed to gell during the week in using images/ideas. I had put aside the pomegranate quilt as somehow something was bothering me about it. But on the other hand I tend to finish something and then move onto the next thing- so it had to be finished. I have very few ufo's - maybe 4 over the 17 years I have been quilting. So once I buckled down and started quilting I realised the problem was actually the fact that I hadn't quilted it- once that started happening and texture started appearing I started feeling happier about the whole quiilt, so all I have to do is put on the binding. I feel a bit better for having finished it- it means I can go onto the other things I have in mind- but I have to wait for some copper foil to arrive from The Thread Studio in Perth. Check our Dale's gallery - there is always things worth seeing in it.

I missed out on the Barcelona residency again!! I give up. I really do. Audiences seem to love quilts- everyone but arts administrators , museums and granting bodies seem to like quilts- so how do we tell them????

And it is hot and dry today -though we had a frost last night- unbelievable for this time of year. I am not sure our zucchinis will survive. Tomorrow it will be even hotter-sections of the eastern part of the state are burning and we have asked fire fighting crews from New Zealand to come and help as every region needs to keep their fire crews on standby just in case, and every firefighter that can be spared has been sent ( yes it is bushfire season- but more than a month early) and we are on tenterhooks for tomorrow-it all depends how bad the north wind will be

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Syrian Eye Idol

Apart from Taking Sense of Place to Syria in february of next year I have also been invited to bring more of my own work as well as that of Jenny Bowker. I have been playing around with things inspired by my visit to Syria earlier this year. The treasure in the Museum at Aleppo was marvelous ( and I did not get to the one in Damascus- it is on the to do list for next year!). One of the things I made drawings of was the so called "eye" idols- although some believe it is the body of a woman with the head cut off. However why have a hat then? Not all have hats. There has also been some other suggestions that the eye idols which have holes drilled into the head part may have been used for spinning yarn- now that sort of thinking is right up my alley and allows me to connect these idols with textile!And when I saw these little idols- and there were quite a number of them at first glance you think they are all the same- but really each one is different to the next- quite individual really which makes me wonder if they were individual votives.

The circular button with the eye idol image on the inside is actually a "brooch" made form a cd . This is a sample for the workshops we are having at the Samson Hill Winery in January for fundraising for Sense of Place - the idea is to make fun things that do not need a sewing machine and minimal hand sewing. I think I might make some more of these- however a cd brooch is quite big and makes quite a statement!

I am also fascinated by the cylinder stamps which were used to seal all sorts of containers by rolling the seal in a tablet of wet clay- pretty much like intaglio printing. I love it when I can connect a process of an ancient culture with a process I am using today- things really don't change that much! But if you do follow the link for the museum check out image #8- a stone envelope and letter no less- wonder how the mail man got that into the post box???

For all of you that responded to the image of the previous post- it is actually the sole part of my husbands flipflops ( we call them thongs in Australia)- who could imagine that the ordinary old flipflop could have such nice markings?

And I am chuffed because the countries counter is slowly but surely creeping up!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Three Guesses

Obviously I have been doing very little work. I have done some weeding in the vegetable patch ( it needed it and our season has been late in getting going as we had unheard of frosts in Novemeber) and I joined the Soul Food Cafe and then a virtual Grand Tour and the Lemurian Grand Tour- Sould Food Cafe is all about populating Lemuria a fictional place in order to stimulate writing and creating. As a result I seem to have set up some more blogs( I will go blogging mad) one which will be based in partial reality and incorporate some of my travel adventures and observations Travels Between Caravanserai, I will also show more photos of some of my travels and the other a bit more imaginary though with some elements of some of my experiences Tripping the Light Fantastic. I am hoping all of this will get me involved in creating again- because nothing much is happening except the odd sigh and groan. Anyway one way or another it will force me to do something or I might get lost!

However does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what the photo in this post might be of? Wish I could dye like that!