Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sentinelle #2

I have been sewing  and sewing and my machine is not co-operating with the double thread I am running through it - the tension on the back of the piece is not the best- but running a double thread gives a different effect then stitching  4 times- it's a bit looser and more dimensional- but the back isn't pretty that's for sure- though I do not make  quilts for the backs! I am still pondering what colour I will use to stitch her face with....

And am also undecided what badges she shall wear- probably something pretty vibrant as the background is quite dark and I will probably darken it some more with stitching- right now I am taking a break- my back is sore form all that sewing!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sentinelles Taking Shape

I have been hard at work but seem not to have achieved as much as I wanted. I was determined to get the blue sentinelle to a place where i could  finish the hand stitching later and be reasonably happy to move onto the next sentinelle. I  tend to finish one piece of work and then move onto the next. I have been hand dyeing fabric but to my chagrin found, that, despite measuring twice I manage to cut all the pieces for dyeing the backgrounds for my sentinelles  6 cms too short- and now I have run out of fabric.I had two pieces left of the right length thank goodness and they are now dyed and one is printed and basted and I have started stitching and the next is ready to print.

 So I was super glad when some khadi fabric arrived via Fiona Wright of Creative Arts Safaris . Khadi is hand spun and hand woven cotton fabric made  in little villages all over India by artisan weavers. Fiona sent me a couple of different weights to experiment with- I love the idea that this cloth is  entirely hand made by a real person- it was Ghandi's idea to get India together and working together and to sustain the little people.Here is some more information

Anyway it dyes beautifully-  slightly dullish but the colour is deep and good- so watch this space- if you are interested in me dyeing some of this special cloth just contact me-it is the ultimate slow cloth- hand spun, hand woven and hand dyed and with washing  is quite soft though the structure of the fabric is good.And the price for an entirely hand made fabric will surprise you.I have also worked with it previously here

So here is my  sentinelle now and they measure life size- about 175 cm by 60 cm- I want them to be like a person presence- I am showing progressive steps:

There is still some work to do on the medallion shapes- haven't decided what to put in them for this sentinelle yet ( though I have some plans for the others) simply because this  sentinelle turned out so differently than expected- the medallions are a hark back to medieval times when people wore badges on pilgrimages to identify who they were and what their pilgrimage was- block printing was used to create the often paper badges that were worn- so the idea for the "badges" is that they will identify the sentinelle.

Thanks for all the feedback on my last post- it is sometimes good to push on with unfamiliar colour and  think hard on how to get the result you are after- I am still not certain for this sentinelle but I do feel she rules them all, somehow, because she has taken a lot of work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Week to Forget

I feel overwhelmed by the recent events in New Zealand and Japan and the human tragedy that affects us all and leaves us helpless.I will be donating some money as I think that is what is needed most at this time.

On a personal front I have had a week i would rather forget. I went to see my mother last weekend and on the way home on the freeway- my oil light came on and  within seconds my car engine had seized. I had no mobile phone and those of you who live in Melbourne and Geelong, will know on Sunday afternoon there was a heavy  rainstorm- it had just started. The freeway phone was more than a km away- so after some procrastination  I decided to walk to the freeway phone- fortunately a RACV tray truck went past as I had just started to walk and stopped, and put my car on the truck as he was on the way to the other side of Geelong and could drop me at the depot ( I was about 15 minutes form home ). I can't thank that young man enough for stopping- as the rain got much heavier and the traffic was heavy. Then came the bad news- engine seized and needed replacing at a cost of $4900- need to sell quite a few quilts for that..... . Anyway after agonising for a day or so  decided that it was not worth repairing the car as there were some other things that would need attention in the  not too distant future , like a faulty ignition lock and wheel rotars- so i sent the car off to car heaven. I will think about what to do when I get back from Europe.But it was a very expensive afternoon.

So work on my sentinels has been slow because of  getting the car stuff all sorted, and also by the fact that nothings is turning out the way  I was thinking it would. First of all my stencil which I made of Vilene and which I coated with  a water resistant  lacquer is quite porous. It's leaving a residue behind the  stencil, which in the end I don't mind the result of. Australia Post seem to have lost the parcel of dyes and printing ink I ordered two weeks ago so I have had to make do with what I have got here . I had yellow printing ink and as it is transparent you cannot print it on a dark ground. So i thought I would print the white fabric first and then dye it- I had in mind the yellow print would act as a resist against the dye and I was thinking of a glowing reddish/ochre sentinel. However the only dye I had on hand was blue and black- so ok a dark blue then with hopefully the yellow  remaining yellow enough to provide contrast. Didn't happen. The dyed fabric  came out quite a dull blue  in colour ( that's ok I can fix that with heavy stitching) but the yellow went a murky olive green. I fixed the halo by adding foil but did not want to do that to the whole piece. So here are the results- I am still puzzling over thread colour- a deep red around the foiled area I think  and maybe an ochre colour around the dress shapes....and I can liven up the colour once it has been stitched with  some iridescent shiva sticks.
 So nothing turned out like I wanted so  now I have to think about how to rescue the situation as i cannot afford the time to ditch this  sentinel.I hadn't anticipated doing a blue sentinel but maybe this can be the midnight sentinel- the one for reflection and empathy- given  the natural disasters that have happened of late. I feel a little like I did  not have a hand in how this turned out, that something else was at play, pushing my hand and thought- almost like she is her own creation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sort of Working

I have cut out the stencil but  as i used vilene it was not water proof so I have had to seal it with clear lacquer. Of course the weather turned sort of cold and wet so it's taking a long time to dry as i am saturating the vilene with the lacquer. My dyes and paints have still not arrived so that is a pain- hope Australia Post have not lost them!I did do a partial print today and I have to say  the sentinel looks quite different to how the drawn image looked.The blotches are caused by some botched printing on the other side of the fabric.The fact that it's turned out different  has me thinking about how  saturated I want the print.

Meanwhile as I am waiting, I have just about finished reading the monograph on Fred Willliams and have thoroughly enjoyed the insights offered by Patrick McCaughey into the development of  Williams work, who worked doggedly and hard to reach the vision that he did.I think it's time for a biography of this artist, his breakthroughs were breath taking. McCaughey says on page 213.." Williams transformed the space of  landscape painting to a pictorial field, treating the canvas as a colour-field painter might, a flat area to be coated with layers of paint,placed one on top of the other, not as a window through which the world may be seen, a shallow box in which objects could be placed" and one might add a  painterly curiousity cabinet.I love the  paintings he created of the You Yangs- they are so determinedly Australian; all spare and messy at the same time.There is nothing neat about our landscape- often scraggly, rocky, cracked and torn, stunted and ripped. messy and layered.

Anyway the reading has had me thinking . Having seen Sidney Nolan's, Gallipolli exhibition at the Geelong Art Gallery last weekend- and thoroughly enjoying it , and I highly recommend seeing  it,  though I am not a great fan of Nolan in particular - it is noticeable how much "thought" both these men put into their work with quite different results. Williams concerned himself with finding a way to express landscape that was the Australian bush, Nolan was more concerned with man in the  great lonely bush and icons and myth making ( think the Ned Kelly series and Leda and the Swan)- however it is obvious that great thought and break-throughs in thinking took place with quite remarkable results.This is such a stark contrast to the "quilt and dare I say it quilt art " world/ industry where everything is focussed on technique  and the latest bits of glum and glitter and throwing it on, often without real focus or ideas behind the expression. What is so palpably apparent in both Williams and Nolan- yes technique/ the artisan aspect of their work  was very much a part of their process - for example I am pretty sure Nolan was actually using transfer paints or dyes to create the Gallipoli landscapes ( a better insight than the word textile dye used by the exhibition signage- why did he use transfer paints, how did he come across them- and my goodness how successful was the use of them in creating the mottled rocky craggy landscape) but it's  the vision that comes first and and the reaching for the result- the technique is but a tool in the creation of the idea/the vision/ the art.Both artist worked and reworked their ideas, their inspirations bringing them to their final destination.

I am wondering if there is any interest out there in my developing something that will prod and push and help find  voice out there? 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I have been cutting out a life size stencil of a sentinelle.It's taken me ages as i wanted the effect to be  lacey.I finally finished it today but the  printing ink I have ordered hasn't arrived yet and I am chomping at the bit to see how the  sentinelle looks printed.Plus I want to make these for my exhibitions in Europe - so I have got quite some work ahead of me.
Here is the drawn sentinelle:
I don't like the shape of the halo and will change that before I cut it.
And here she is cut out.The discs will be places where I will make other prints or embroidery pertinent to the subject matter the sentinelle is watching.

I found another unfinished teapot and Rosewater jug- and finished it.It is for sale for $45US inclusive of postage. If you are interested just email me .SOLD

Oh and Happy International Women's Day! 

Friday, March 04, 2011

Almost Finished!

I am not sure where my week has gone- I have worked hard, making final arrangements for my trip to Syria and then Europe. I shall be teaching one day at EQC at Veldhoven in the Netherlands as well as exhibiting work from 5 May until 8 May. Then I go onto Parma in Italy for Italia Invita  from 13-15 May ,where I am also teaching workshops, then to Montpellier and some work on setting up  our Atelier Printemps Sacré and then onto Orleans and some workshops on 27 and 28 May with Au Fil d'Emma, and on 24 May and 31 May with Best of Quilting near Paris. This will be the only trip I make to Europe this year-as I cannot be away too much as my daughter is going to school and I have no other backup support apart from my eldest daughter.That is the hard part about being a single parent.

I shall also be doing monthly workshops at Jiddi's Patch here in Geelong starting on June 11- they will be workshops to build textile skills and develop work- they will be ongoing and will take the format of a bit of art textile school- so I will have to sit and devise a  curriculum . I am also starting a Travellers' Blanket workshop at Jiddi's Patch- our first workshop will be dyeing the fabrics  to be used on Saturday 2 April, and then monthly sessions of stitching the  travellers memoires starting Tuesday evening from 7-9 pm on 5 April. If you are interested in doing any of these workshops please contact Jiddi's Patch ( see the link above)- we can only accommodate 8 participants.I think the universe is telling me to stick to textiles even though the going is tough and I don't make enough to pay my bills at the moment, and I am certainly not getting any interviews for jobs I have applied for.

I have done a  lot of stitching on  my sentinels as well as procrastinating about the further six sentinels I want to create.Thank you for all the positive comments about them and Gillian mentioned in a comment to my last post that they reminded her of Aboriginal Wandjina figures.  The figures are actually an amalgum of a few things- my love of byzantine icons and madonnas, the wish to incorporate lace patterning  on the bodies, and  idea that we must be watchful of the earth; the last few catastrophic months here  at the bottom end of the Pacific Ocean is evidence that we must indeed practice what we all know we must do- so the idea of the earth and wishing to represent it has a strong role to play - and in that regard I am inspired by Fred Williams and  Judy Watson.

It measures 102 cms x 100 cm ( 41 inches x 40 inches) and has taken a lot of stitching. My other sentinels will be different. This piece is for sale subject to being exhibited at EQC and Italia Invita- the price is $1,200 US inclusive of shipping after the Italia Invita event.

Last friday i had a visit from Diane Wright who was visiting form the USA and had asked if she could see my work and buy  my free machine stitching books ( they  lived and worked in Australia  some years ago and are passionate about Victoria). That is the amazing thing about the internet- not only do you get to meet people online but  some  you get to meet face to face. She purchased a small eucalypt piece I made some years ago and  we had a lovely dinner that night at a tapas bar here in Geelong.

And last but not least- there is still time to enroll in my online linocutting class starting on 7 March.The cost of the class is $55 US and extends over a six week period. Here are some blog posts from people who have done the class:
Linda Bilsborrow
Linda Robertus
Sally Westcott
Vicki Welsh
Sarah Ann Smith
And her is a collage of some of the linocuts I have made  in the last few years  and the lessons and exercises will look at creating your own motifs and patterns ;