Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cross X Pollination

I am involved in a project organised by  the COPACC Centre in Colac involving Textile and Fibre Art  from July 6-14. it is an exciting program of exhibitions by  Catherine O'Leary ( felt maker extraordinaire), Sue Ferrari and myself as well as exhibitions of  Farmers' Armour- wearable art ( also a competition and prize), Art Wihtout Borders ( migrants' journeys) and another exhibition at  red Rock Gallery ( RRTAG) entitled Grafted and also with a competition and prize money to be won. There will be a Makers' Market, Creative Foyer and Floor Talks.Details are here . Colac is an hour and three quarters drive from Melbourne.Or you can download the Artful Winter brochure.

I will be teaching, linocut making and stamping, Printing your own fabric ( including African painting technique) and  transfer dyeing and printing and working with lutradur on  9,10 and 11 July respectively.If you are interested in doing any of these workshops contact me or the organisers directly.

There is still time to book into the Travellers' Blanket on-line class- email me for the information sheet.It starts on 17 June.

the l;ast few months I have been teaching a Travellers' Blanket class form home - we meet once a month after  dyeing the fabric in the first session, and so  we sit and stitch and work on our blankets. However  there are times when a student produces such lovely work that i have to say out loud- I wish I had made that!All of the participants this session have made wonderful work but Fiona Jellie from Colac is also an embroiderer- and she has applied her skills beautifully to decorating and embellishing her squares- see what you think! I can't wait to see  the finished piece.
I wished i had taken a detail photo to show Fiona's beautiful embroidery! 

And last but not least- a new Gypsy Blanket I am working on, using  left over pieces of hand printed fabric, hand dyed fabrics and making thread work for you!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Berry Patchwork Retreat

I am teaching at the Berry Patchwork Retreat from 7-8 September 2013, and I have to say it's been quite a number of years since I taught in NSW. I am teaching all things to do with stitching, so Transfer Printing with Lutradur and then stitching the finished prints and working with Solufix.

One thing about sending samples to encourage enrollments is to make samples which are achievable in the allotted time and as working with Solufix is pretty recent for me, working out how much time it will take to densely stitch a small panel takes some investigating because the ones I have shown previously here cannot be stitched in one day in a workshop, and I am also mindful of the fact that  participants may also not have the thread selection I have- some people have a 12 pencil colouring box and others have a 136 pencil colouring box.

So the  cat image I showed two posts ago is doable in a day, but then not everyone likes a cat. So I decided to make another sample, and I learnt quite a bit doing it..... not every photo is suitable for smaller pieces..... and being a lover of pomegranates, i thought this would make a good embroidery
  But not..... the finished embroidery doesn't  look anything like the photo, and I realised this early on, so instead of tossing it aside and starting over with some thing more suitable my printer decided to run out of coloured ink, and as my budget is very challenged at the moment due to a 2 day workshop cancelling last weekend,it will have to wait until some time in the future to print another image, so i persevered- and decided to focus on  the play of colour rather than trying to make it look like pomegranates. The problem with the photo was that  given the scale of what i thought could be achieved in a day, the detail in the photo was too much to be able to execute it.I also  put the image over red fabric- not a good idea, the definition  disappeared to some extent, which made it difficult to see where to put which colour, and I didn't exactly have the right coloured threads- I used Mettler's silk finish threads which I am loving ( but  don't have the full pallette- in my dreams....)
 So the photo above was the resulting stitched piece- approximately postcard size. The stitching is very dense which is why it takes  a day to execute it. I did discover the back ended up being quite interesting ( and I did use two different colours in the bobbin- red and and deep aqua colour)

And then in the post yesterday- came these bags from Germany- they are being used at Nadelweldt Karlsruhe- it's my Travellers' Blanket which was published in their magazine . It's a buzz to see  my work on these bags and I wish I could see them walking around. But like so many things in the quilting  world there is no payment for me ( though I did get 5 bags and they are lovely to have )- but I figure it's good publicity.

And there will be another on-line class starting for the Travellers Blanket on 17 June 2013.If you are interested please email me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chartres Again

The more I read about this cathedral the more the mystery deepens, and there is nothing quite like a good mystery  and I know I have scratched only a miniscule portion of the mystery ( so there is a lot of reading to be done yet- and exploring). As an artist I am trying to work out exactly what it is that forms the fascination, the mystery for me- and drawn I am to this  wondrous cathedral. The site of the church is ancient and said to go back to druidic times.It is a church devoted to Our Lady and it houses a black Madonna. The current form of the cathedral was built after the late romanesque/very early gothic catherdral burnt down  in 1194. The remains of the earlier catherdral comprise the western or royal portal, some of the stained glass and in particular the "Charteres blue", the composition of which colour has not as yet been identified and one of the bell towers.It is known that the catherdral devoted itself to the seven liberal arts: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy and to the feminine- there is at least 400 representations of the feminine. It is thought that the sculptures of the western portal were done by the same sculptors who  sculpted the Figures ( now all destroyed except one ) of the Imperial Abbaye Saint Denis. The cathedral  was rebuilt after the fire of 1194 at a remarkable pace- about 24 years and  appears to have been funded through the efforts of the Knights Templar, though the residents were very heavily taxed which did result in some riots. One of the portals is entirely dedicated to alchemy .So a selection of images to maybe tantalise....

Patterning- everywhere you look there is pattern and texture- carved in stone it is almost as if it's textile.

 There are all the signs of the zodiace on the western portal. I notice on the one  on the right there is also a crocodile. I know in Nimes there's a church devoted to the crocodile and there is also a small church near Mantova that has a crocodile suspended from the ceiling- I have always wondered what they meant?

And of course there is the labyrinth- it's centre of recent fabrication ( i believe there as an archealogical dig done  in the centre ) and as you can see this is only the centre of the labyrinth as it is covered by chairs most days ( except fridays) to stop people from  walking or is it crawling the path?

  This is perhaps the most famous stained glass window of the all- devoted to Notre Dame and the paler blue that you see was all that remained of the famed Chartres blue after the great fire of 1194- so it dates from sometime in 1120 to 1194. And on the right votive candles

And those coffee pots int he window of the brasserie across the road from the cathedral. And I have finished my angel piece- you can read more about her on Voyageart.

And if you are interested I am starting another On-line Travellers' Blanket class on 17 June 2013- simply email me . I hope to share some photos later this week of a  Travellers' Blanket class I have been teaching from home. If you are interested in joining an actual class with me at  home- please email me .it is very tempting to make a Chartres inspired blanket!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mirabelle Kits & a Bit of Printing

I have finally sorted myself out about the Mirabelle Kits- Ladies & Knights. The price of each kit is $20 plus postage . Normally I like to make things inclusive of postage but there has been so many price hikes in postage rates these last few years I can no longer do that.So the kits are available in two colour ways- a third is on its way! The kits have been inspired by the figures at Chartres Cathedral and medieval representations of the human form.

 So this lady and knight have been stitched with a cornflower blue outer line. Each kit contains a hand printed outline of the figure  on khadi cloth ( which is sourced from the Stitching Project in India), the backing fabric ( khadi ), anchor pearl 8 weight threads for the stitching, a colour photo with instructions.

 This lady and knight are the dark blue colour way ( the colour blue for the lady is slightly different in the kit- it is the same blue as the knight)

If you are interested in purchasing a kit email me!
And I have been printing fabric with the quadrilobe motif from Chartres.- I know it haven't perfectly printed it but stitching will sort that out. I will also be teaching at Cohuna Retreat the weekend after next and realised that my  class sample was one of the pieces I sold in my two day sale- not very clever- so I am working on another - shape is a bit different, but it does remind me of the wonderful colours of the stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral.

And whilst thinking about Chartres Cathedral- I shall be doing a tour for Creative Arts Safaris next year- called the Mirabelle Trail inspired by all things textile and in particular medieval textiles and ladies and knights.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quilt-In at Geelong

I made an error in my previous post about the dates for the Travellers' Blanket  on-line class- it will start on 17 June 2013 not 2014 as I said in the post. I have fixed the error.

This last year I have been president of the Geelong  Patchworker & Quilters Guild, and one of our fun activities is to have our Quilt-in day which is tomorrow 18 May 2013. Here are the details:


Saturday 18 May 2013 from 9.30 am until 4.00 pm
at  the South Barwon Civic Centre ( cnr of Reynolds rd & Princess Hwy Belmont-Melway map 465 E3

Deborah Brearley will speak in the morning program
Michelle Hill will speak in the afternoon program
Our Challenge is Rainbow hats
Travelling exhibition of Marrakech quilts and plenty of show and tell

Cost $10 per head but bring your own lunch and mug- morning and afternoon tea will be provided
We have 7-8 Traders, so plenty of choice to stock up for winter quilting projects!

Anyone is welcome- the more the merrier- lets all be inspired , as we have great speakers, there will be trading tables , there will be plenty of show and tell or in the words of Auntie Jack " I will rip their bloody arms orf" at the next meeting if there isn't! And please if you turn up as a result of seeing this on my blog- come and say hello to me.

And I have been doing some dyeing, though my hot water service dyeing wasn't terribly helpful in that process, thankfully it's fixed now- and I am looking forward to a nice hot shower rather than the lukewarm pretend showers of the  last few weeks!. I have also  been doing a bit of stitching- another version of Bali- my friends cat.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On-Line Courses

There is still time to sign up for the on-line linocutting course.  You do not need to use lino necessarily, as you can use easy cut or other mediums which can be carved with lino tools. It is a great way to make your own stamps or to make more elaborate pieces which stand up in their own right and which come to life with the addition of stitching and other textile techniques. Email me if you are interested. Below are  a small sample of some of the linocuts I have made and how I have used them.

Of course I have made poppies into a linocut and was quite chuffed at how different the effect of the print was on Evolon compared to lutradur ( apart from the fact that the actual print also reverses)
but also how much detail stitching the pieces made.

This linocut is based on a persian motif adopted in French fabrics in the  eighteenth century. I really wanted to see how much detail  I could get into the linocut.

This is quite a large linocut and was inspired by a photo I took in Rue Mouffetard in Paris. In the piece below I only used a part of the linocut to make the print.

 The image above is again inspired by a photo I took in a  Brasserie in Chartres, where the windows are lined with all manner of teapots and coffee pots.

And of course my Sentinelles are also printed with a linocut- though my lino is starting to deteriorate so I will be making my last print run with the linocut later this week and then I will make no more of this kind of sentinelle. The good news is that  we are organising an exhibition of the sentinelle panels in Palaisseau near Paris from 29 March until 12 April 2014. We found that  peopel had really had a sense of fun with the embroidery and the embellsighments they used so the idea is to exhibit as many of the  panels which have been stitched as possible. There is still time to join simply email me if you would like to buy a panel and join the project. The cost of the panels is $15 (AUS) plus postage, which is about $2 ( )AUS for one panel.. I will also exhibit my larger panels so that their whole story can be told.I am really looking forward to seeing them all together!

And this is a piece I am working on for the Voyageart group ( I am running a bit late but  I am getting there)  The face is from the statue de l'Assumption in the chorus in the Chartres Cathedral . It took a while to work out who had made the sculpture as the information is not readily available- it was made by Charles Antoine Bridan out of carrara marble which he personally selected in Italy. I thought I detected a certain italianate style in the face of this angel- in fact it reminds me quite a lot of one of the faces that Michelangelo painted in the Sistine Chapel- I am not sure why- perhaps the broadness of the cheeks and the angle of the eyes? It turns out that Bridan may indeed have been influenced by Italian sculpture as he studied at the Academie de France in Rome from 1757-1762. There was little else to find out about Bridan except that two of his sculptures are in the Louvre and that his son also became a sculptor. One of his sculptures in the Louvre is described as having a flacid style- not sure what that exactly means. But I do like the face of this angel- there seems to be a dreaminess about it. It seems as if faces are my theme at the moment.

And last but not least. I have had a number of enquiries as to when I am running the Travellers' Blanket on-line class again and have decided that I shall start a new class on 17 June 2013. Below are some images of work created by previous students:

 The piece on the right is by Frances Mulholland but I forgot to record the name of the student who made the piece on the left. She used all eco-dyed fabrics for her memories. If you are interested in joining the class and creating your own Travellers' Blanket email me for more information. Cost of the class is $60 (AUS)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Linocutting Class On-Line

I have previously indicated that i would be conducting an on-line linocutting class starting on 13 May 2013.That is still my intention but I have decided to revamp my notes in light of what I learned at il Bisonte in Florence and also in light of the work I have been making in the last year or so, where using linocut prints has assumed much greater importance in my own work. I am told that the linocut notes form the classes I have previously taught are very comprehensive and that there is  nothing quite like it available as a book or  via the internet. I would make it into a book, but am working on my France book and that is number 1 priority at present- and I am trying to think of ways to raise some funds to pay a designer for the book and to publish it in French and English.

So Linocutting- online- the course. The course gives some background history and then there are a series of exercises to build your skills and learn the use of your tools and to give you ideas of how you might design  initially simple blocks building up to more complex blocks and  multi-colour printing,multi layer printing, using photos to create blocks and creating a monogram. The workshop has been designed for printing on fabric though I will now add  things about printing on paper.The program will be delivered in 3 fortnightly lessons and there will be a forum in which to discuss and share. The notes comprise of pdf files totalling  about 80 pages or more. The course will cost $60 AUS- if within Australia fees can be paid via internet banking and outside of Australia by Paypal- you will need to email me so that i can give details of how to do this.

So i wanted to share what I did at Il Bisonte. Let me start by saying it was a great course, I learnt a lot and  it gave me a lot of food for thought. It was an inspiring environment to be in, because not only were there students doing the woodblock cutting and printing course I did ( some of them were year long students) but there were other print makers using  other rooms and presses making all sorts of wonderful prints with lithograps, etchings and photo emulsions.Surprisingly few of my fellow students  had websites or blogs ( except the young Indian student who sat beside me and whose name I spelt wrong so now I can't find her website or FB page) being worried about copyright infringement and the time it would take to build a website.

Another aspect that arose was the fact that this was a week long course. In quilting and textiles we do so few week long courses and everybody wants fast fast techniques and thinks that simply learning the technique enables you to  go off and do it by yourself- and I would possibly have subscribed to that view to some extent, being a bit of an autodidact ( though I do read and research). However after a week at Il Bisonte i  can honestly say fast fast is not the best way, and in a way I knew this because I know it takes time to develop work.I loved that I had a week to be there to develop, to think about what i was doing ( and I did go home and do homework by way of drawing) taking on board  the input of the teachers, researching their work ( when I was able) looking and seeing what the other students were doing, watching them print and being inspired what emerged when the paper was lifted, and most of all working harder to make my second wood block better than my first but also taking in what i had seen some of the others do in terms of creating textures, lines and impact.It didn't feel right to photograph their work as  copyright did appear to be a sensitive issue, so I cannot share some of their inspirational work. I learnt from being in the presence of a master print maker, though the language was a challenge, i learnt from being in the presence of a workshop where Henry Moore once taught, I learnt from my fellow students and I learnt that to improve on your first  attempt actually teaches you more than your first attempt.

The blocks we worked on were 12 "x10" ( 30 x 25 cm)- we were taught how to  back the  blocks properly to protect the back, to prepare the blocks for best conservation and then set to drawing and preparing our drawings for transfer and then preparing the block for carving. The carving of wood is quite different to lino though you use the same tools, and it was more time consuming, but the results were worth the time. From Gianni Verna I learnt to explore the graphic qualities and positive negative space to a greater extent, to not get too fiddly but think of how to make the graphic qualities  work for you and from Manuel I learnt that subtlety is no bad thing- two opposing views you might think, but one that gave me a lot to think about.
So here is the work I did:
from drawing...... and I am still playing with faces,

 To carving- and I changed things as I went along simply because I knew this was not going to be a great print and then decided to  explore creating texture  and working out how differently the tools behaved in wood compared to lino...
 To my first print, which I did not bother to execute on better papers- I could see it's failings and  wanted to do better and learn more,
 To my drawing of a tree, thinking about putting in background texture, but heeding Gianni's words about positive/negative and  opting for less
 Carving the wood, which because I wanted my contrast to be about  fine lines took a long time- no shortcuts here and no point only doing a small patch because that would not give me the full extent of possibilities
 To the carved piece which looks beguilingly simple but took two days to carve
And the final prints- I brought these two home as the ink had dried , but the prints I liked best are being sent because it was printed on paper that takes longer to dry. We also used the back of the block to create a textural landscape of the actual woodgrain- letting it do the work in creating a relief that created the ground for which to print over.There were a few slip ups- as I need to learn greater control of my tools  as they behave differently in wood compared to lino and to apply the pressure differently and to use the knife tool more, and there's room for improvement but on the whole I was better pleased with this block compared to my first block. Thank you to Il Bisonte for giving me this opportunity.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Flying Home Tomorrow

Time  always flies when you travel and this trip has been no exception. During the week I visited Jane Rollason and her partner Michel the mayor of  Viville in the Charentes, to see what the region was like , because if I ever sell my block of land in Gellibrand I want to have somewhere else to live in France as I can't afford to buy a house in  Australia unless I buy out in whoop whoop and then I may as well live in France!.

It was lovely visiting in Viville- on day one the village fete was on which consisted of gathering for breakfast, driniking red wine, eating  young garlic stems, cheese,pressed meat and bread, then many of the villagers went for a walk, but as there was lightening and thunder we decided to  return home, and then a lunch which took all afternoon; I won a ham in the raffle, something incredibly useful to win when you are about to fly home, but I am sure Jane and Michel will enjoy it! I loved wondering aroudn their garden which was about to be ploughed for the vegetables and enjoyed seeing Jane's work looking fantastic on the stone walls of their house!
Yes that is the Jambon de Montagne I won.
The angel at Chartres Cathedral , where my friend Christine and I went on Monday to do some serious photographing!

 Jane and I waiting for the TGV- i hate photographs of myself I always look like a have swallowed a cow.
One of the tapestries at Abbaye aux Dames, where you can also rent a room in the monastery if you are so inclined. I omitted to record who designed the tapestries but they were worked on by groups of local women and adorn the walls of the church.

And Jane's lovely work.........

A piece of Jane's work  made with "flower power"- a technique Jane has perfected. This particular piece was made with pansies from the garden.

And a lovely pink peonie rose which  was gingerly opening it's petals int he rather cold and wet weather.

We did go sightseeing one  afternoon to Saintes and Royan and I think I can safely say i could very much fall in love with this region especially a bit away fro, the sea- rolling hills, bits of forest, vineyards for the famous cognac, old stone buildings........Tomorrow I fly home and this trip will have been the stuff of dreams......