Friday, March 28, 2008


I really fell off the trolley creatively last week and it takes time to pick up the pieces, plus I am still trying to think what I will make my mother for her birthday as we go visit her for a few days tomorrow. Guess I will have to find something amongst my stuff that will fit the bill.
The doodle above I made when I was in Damascus last year- trying to capture the feel of the countryside and the little villages dotted all over the place with the minarets towering over them. However doodling on paper is quite a bit different then transferring the doodle to fabric. I didn't want to make a gocco screen ( the same as thermafax but a little cheaper) because the image would be too tiny- I wanted it to be large. There is still a lot more detail to go in, but i had to wait for this section to dry. I have been pondering how to get the textile printing ink onto the fabric and suddenly it dawned on me that i could put it into a squeeze bottle and draw it onto the fabric as you would with gutta. It had the added effect that the drawing was a little more spontaneous in order to keep the flow of the textile ink reasonably even. I may dye paint some of the areas- or simply do a soft dye over the top once the ink has been fixed and then perhaps overlay it with coloured lutradur to reveal areas. The thought of overlaying and revealing in the context of this image is very much inspired by the work of Syrian artist Abdullah Murad- whose work, whilst abstract has a lovely lyrical quality that appeals to me- there is layers being revealed- each a small story in its own right. He is also masterful at the use of yellow, almost as good as my beloved Bonnard. I was again reminded how much I liked his work after leafing through the book he so kindly gave to me of his work at the Ayyam Gallery opening I attended last year( and which I finally managed to bring home). And the little round discs on the roofs are the satellite discs every house seems to have for television.

And there are quite a few Hungarian quilters reading my blog.My friend Clare Smith is traveling to Budapest sometime soon- and has some days to spare- she wants to know what is "must see" in Budapest. She also teaches in case anyone is interested?
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Fabric

All Fabric is SOLD
I dyed these pieces a week or so ago. They are for sale at $40 US a metre inclusive of postage ( I have had to change prices because of the exchange rate, which is fluctuating though the Aus dollar remains at a high level). I'll be doing more dyeing next week when I pick up some more white fabric so if you have anything special you would like dyed let me know.

Didn't do any stitching today, trying to protect my thumb.I shall be returning to Europe in August/September this year so if you are interested in my teaching any workshops let me know and I can send you my workshop list. I will be teaching at Lugano and around Grenoble, possibly at Salleles d'Aude at Centre Europeen du Patchwork ,all prior to Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork ( where I hope I am teaching one workshop and Laura, Annette and I will also have a stall in the merchants mall) and then I will be heading to Northern Europe. I install my exhibition at Textil und Kunst in Munich for opening on 1 September. I have also been invited to exhibit work with a Belgian group in Turnhout in the first week of October at a lovely old house ( hofke) in Turnhout. I am teaching in the Hague and possibly in Leiden.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Traveller's Blanket

Thanks for your concern for my thumb- it is recovering rather quickly ( I usually heal quite quickly) and I don't think there is any permanent damage - just some inconvenience. I am trying to avoid getting it wet at all costs.

Anyway I have been handsewing- picking up the traveller's blanket I was working on and which I put aside because I wasn't sure I found it interesting enough. I picked it up a again after I found the little green stitched piece I started when travelling in Egypt and Syria at the beginning of 2006 ( was it that long ago??). Anyway I thought there is place for a traveller's blanket in what I am planning for my exhibition, the theme and inspiration for which has come out of my travels. I am also imagining a traveller who would have travelled across the desert inn the great silk route caravans, finding precious scraps,and making a kind of memory blanket to record his journeys. It is important that it is textural as well, hence the french knots- to run your hands over to recall the stories and starry nights of faraway lands. The spaces between the motifs will also be filled by stitching , which will hopefully come to me as I work- I am thinking subdued at the moment. It actually reminds me a little of a Dear Jane quilts- and perhaps it is my version of it- pattern and repetition built from the scraps of my reds and darks.Anyway the stitching is soothing somehow.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

BY the light of the Lantern

Well almost- there were thunderstorms and lightening and the power did go out for half an hour or so last night and then it rained heavily . Hoorah for the rain, it's so dry. I think we have had at least an inch maybe two inches- the garden is lapping it up.

Thank you all for your good wishes and positive thoughts yesterday- my emotions are very much a part of my creative process and I think this is exacerbated by working from home as well- I am always right in the middle of it and there is really nowhere to find a space away from it.It also means I work in relative isolation, rarely interacting with like minded people except when I go away to teach ( and I have to say blogging has been a bit of a godsend in meeting like minded people) It also means that everyone always thinks you are accessible because many people don't think of you as having a job when your work number is the same as your home number. I have looked but there is nothing available locally as a work space. Today yurts reappeared on my radar for thinking material.

Anyway last night I found a page on Wietse Kluck's blog.It cheered me up a lot to know that my work does inspire people sufficiently for them to want to do a C&G page on my work.Check out Wietske's work -it's wonderful.

I sliced my thumb rather badly yesterday whilst cutting vegies from the garden to make a minestrone. It bled profusely- and I really should have gone to emergency as it did need a stitch or two- but an acquaintance had a seven hour wait there last week- and the thought of having to drive 22 kms to town and then wait made me think again- do you know how hard it is to elevate your thumb above your head so that the wound has time to clot ??It took more than an hour.It's right at the base of the pad of my thumb just above the joint- we could see the bone- eewww- so that will curtail whatever I was planning for awhile- I can't hand sew because you use your thumb a lot for this even your left thumb.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


A rant of sorts- the last paragraph is about the felting if you don't want to read the rant.My creating came to a screaming halt on Tuesday night when we experienced another issue with my middle daughter who does not live at home anymore. This time it was the foster parents who experienced the full brunt off some of the problems we had been experiencing prior to her leaving home. There are many many issues surrounding my daughter, and the last eighteen months have been filled with despair, grief and hope, as she was starting to come home again once in awhile. My belief is that my daughter suffers from dissociative identity disorder. All of us dissociate in normal life- for example day dreaming, driving but not remembering a section of the road, getting lost in a book- for some people these experiences are much more poignant and actually dissociate into different states.It is also known in situations where mothers of a troubled child lost a pregnancy or child immediately prior to the birth of the troubled child that mother often sends very mixed messages to the next born baby- particularly if they suffer from post-natal depression as well and that these children are more prone to dissociation. Convincing the "experts" has been a totally demoralising experience- from how can I know, I am not experienced, I am not an "expert " ( a lot of my legal experience in my lawyer days was actually researching post traumatic stress disorder- which also has dissociation as part of its cluster of symptons) to the bald statement "that she is too young". However the overwhelming preponderance of literature seems to point to the fact that it emerges in teen/adolescent years. I have had people roll their eyes in meetings at me and even asserting that my insistence that there is something "wrong" other than recalcitrant teenage behaviour is tantamount to abuse. The Authority we are dealing with has seen the coming and going of 5 case workers since my daughter has been in their care- each time we are dealing with someone totally new, often inexperienced and often not even a person who has experienced parenthood let alone teenagers. To say it has been a nightmare is an understatement. To say it has been a nightmare for my other two children is also an understatement- but somehow the authority we are dealing with seems to be unable to answer my questions as to what are the rights of my other two children when all they insist on is the rights of the one child? My daughter actually disappeared on Tuesday night- I went to the authority to meet yet another "new" case worker on Wednesday morning, was told that the liaison arrangements I had with the foster parents were inapporpriate from a case worker who had not even read the file ( excuse me we have not had a case worker for the last 6 weeks- so we have had to make it up as we go) and that they would ring me and tell me what had happened. No phone calls before Friday and of course now it is easter. Due to the fact that I do have a relationship with the foster parents I know she was found and she is safe- however the authority has not thought to tell me, the mother of this child, this information. Had I not had a relationship with the foster parents I would have been stressed out all easter with the consequential effect on my other children, worrying and sleeplessness.

I did do some washing machine felting to simply do at least something- for all of you who felt this is probably not very exciting- but it was a bit of a revelation to me- of course it is a learn from your mistakes technique without doubt. The first image is of felt I felted too much- thought the texture is rather nice, the knobbles of the underlying wool coming through nicely. The second attempt was what about trying muslin??? It's good for creating sausages- I should have realised the weave was too loose. The third is more as it should be but I think it's a bit too "holy". Anyway my measly attemtps were inspired by Irene van der Wolf's book "Vilten in de Wasmachine" which I purchased last trip to Holland. The ISBN is 978-90-90224-28-2. Just as well I had felting wool on hand!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The original inspiration for the lantern/lamp drawing I posted the other day was this niche in one of the bathing rooms in the Azem Palace in Damascus . The Azem Palce was built in the eighteenth century and now houses a museum which is representative of Damascene houses of the period. You are normally not allowed to photograph inside the museum, and unfortunately there is not a good book available on it that I have found, however a little tip goes a long way!

So I made a lino-cut of the lantern and printed it on a couple of different background including paper to check for balance. I then transferred it onto lutradur with transfer dyes ( or sublimation dyes) and came up with this little prototype.

Joan tagged me for facts about myself meme- I am at a loss to point to anything about myself at the moment. I can't even get an interview for a real time job for which I was well suited on paper for which I applied the week before last. Never mind- I must be destined to continue on with my textile stuff .

I am teaching in Braidwood,NSW, on May 24/25 and May26/27. We are doing tifaifai in both sessions. If you are interested in attending please contact me and I will put you int touch with the organiser Fioan Hammond. Tifaifai is a really fun raw edge applique technique that result sin very mandala like quilts.

I am also teaching in Adelaide in South Australia from 5-8 June. We are doing two sessions of dyeing and two sessions of printing fabric. Again there are a few places available and if you are interested let me know and I shall put you in touch with the organiser the South Australian Quilters Guild.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finished apart from some Binding

I have finished the cross stitching on this piece- I won't do much quilting on the picture- just some stitching to stop the photo piece from bulging.I haven't quite decided on the binding- probably black.

I am getting very little done in this heat. I have to finish a commission piece inspired by the sea- I still haven't quite worked out all the elements. And I have to dye more fabric- and already have but it is too hot to iron or go outside and photograph the fabric.

The vegie gardens is starting to kick in big time at the moment- the tomatoes have just started ( I put them in late so am rather pleased to have any at all), then there are zucchini submarines and some more normal sized zucchinis, basil( pesto season is here Yay!), celery and peppers, I don't think the eggplants will eventuate, cucumbers and rocket and lettuce and the corn is still some way off. I did make some caponata ( eggplant salad)- it's always a nice side dish at this time of year, or it is seriously good on some toasted Italian bread ( which I can't get in Colac and it's too hot to make bread)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hot hot hot

It is so hot that walking outside is like hitting a dense stifling wall of heat. Plus we are on amber drop watchout- there was a fire about 20 kms from here- but fortunately it has been contained- so here's hoping the wind doesn't change.Everything is tinder dry .

It is too hot to work with fabric- my hands get instantly clammy holding fabric so I haven't achieved much these last days. I have done the preliminary drawing for a lamp lino-cut- but looking at it on my screen I am not so sure I like it all that much. I think it needs some adjusting. And I got nominated by Barbara Cheeseman for inspirational blog- but it's been so hot I haven't responded to the challenge of naming another 10 inspirational blogs- there are so many inspirational blogs!
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Printing Block

I tried to post the original picture od Khan Assad al Pasha yesterday but they would not load. This photo shows the large dome. Apparently the khan was built in the late 18th century or early 19th century. This Khan is very large with many rooms coming off the the central courtyard- it would have been a buzz of activity in days gone by- it is situated in the spice and apothecary souq in Damascus. These days it is used to host exhibitions or performances. The whirling dervishes we saw last year. It is only recently that the dervishes have bee allowed to whirl again in Damascus- it being outlawed for some time. It is quite mesmerising watching a dervish whirl and the music too, has a kind of pleasant frenzy to it. The dervishes were whirling on the occasion of the opening of an exhibition of photos of the dervishes and this particular man featured in quite a number of photos. Their faces acquire and almost angelic look, and their dresses are quite amazing.

The printing block is one I bought atthe small Textile Museum on the Boden Zee in Austria last year- I though it would make a great background for something. I have yet to try it as I only recently brought it back
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Working on the Khan

I showed an image of Khan Assad al Pasha last November. At that stage I was just ecxperimenting with Inkaid- but I have decided to use this image and some others for my exhibition- they will be like introductory glimpses to Damascus. The problem then became how to quilt the surround and today it finally struck me I should use cross stitch- as cross stitch is used to decorate traditional dresses from Northern Syria. I like the juxtaposition of some really basic simple and old style of stitching with something computer generated.It is stiflingly hot today so not a great day for any stitching, so I was quite pleased to get as much done as I did.
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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Zenobia's Desert Court

It is said that Zenobia the Queen of Palmyra rode with her troops and that she was a skilled horsewoman. She is also said to have been of Egyptian origin and claimed she was related to Cleopatra. However no doubt, when she and her troops bivouacked in the desert they would have spread their crapets underfoot, as seems to have been a long standing tradition of the bedouin and other desert nomads. What I originally thought of as Gypsy Moments really seem more like little carpets especially after looking at the colours of the carpets and rugs in various books I have on Middle Eastern textiles. So I am now thinking of them as something that might be installed with my little Zenobia's and other Arabian nights inspired dolls- each with a story to tell.

The images on yesterdays's slide show, all hail from pre 2004 so all are older works.
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

My Work

Many of my older photos ( pre-digital) are courtesy of Upfront Pictures ( my good friends Robina and Tony Summers)
Please respect their copyright, and my copyright for that matter.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Forest Fabric


I had a request for some forest fabric so I dyed some more today, after the dyes I ordered arrived yesterday. They are for sale and cost $35 Us ( or 24 Euros ) inclusive of postage. Email me if you are interested.

I did actually turn on the sewing machine today but only started working on some small collage pieces to go with my teapots and lantern ( I still have to draw this last one and cut the lino)- I want to make 60 of these all up for my exhibition- so there will be 20 of each.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Finally Finished

I wished I could say I had been working , but I don't seem to have done much at all. I have been gathering my thoughts on "Caravanserai" the title of my exhibition which will be held at Textil und Kunst in Munich from 1- 26 September 2008. I have finally distilled some ideas about what I am going to do for my catalogue thing, making some of the pages with the technique I played with at Laura and Annette's. So i had to order some tjantjings, as the effects are a form of batik. And I finally embroidered one of the Zenobia's I printed awhile back . I like her better with her turban and embroidery details, though she is still not quite how I saw her, or drew her- but it will have to do! I want to make about 40-50 different dolls to form an installation at my exhibition- so I had better get moving!
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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Produce from the Garden

I know I said I was going to be working, but in all reality I am still paddling water. Had to go into town yesterday and do a big grocery shop and it feels as if the prices have risen yet again even in the 3 weeks I have been away. I always thought food stuffs were dearer in Europe- but I think it has changed. I am shocked at how much food, and especially fresh food costs in Australia. Good cheese is ridiculously expensive compared in France, and even meat prices have spiralled to be more expensive than Europe. I am glad of my vegetable garden and I have been spending time picking things- rescuing things from the birds who won't share- and reading recipe books to get inspired to use all this wonderful produce!

I have also been painting pages to use for my catalogue/books I want to make for my exhibition- it just feels like I should be sewing.I think I have found a way forward with the catalogue ideas after my play day with Laura and Annette. I also can't find my journal I was using before I went away- I didn't take it as it had those skeleton leaves pressed into the hand made paper which was the cover and this caused problems with customs last time- so I left it home- but where??? I have found lots of other things ( all my workroom is still mostly packed away and not stashed in an orderly manner , so losing things is an exasperating waste of time - how I wish for a workroom/studio- have to find a house to live in first)
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