Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A new decade 2020

I'm finding it hard to accept that I turn 60 this year. Surely a 60 yer old person should be tidy and have their creative life a bit more organised than I do. I get carried away creatively and don't mind that I'm working in a disaster zone. I think I spend most of my life tidying up the mess I made the previous day. I also have about the slowest computer available at the moment since it hasn't been able to update to the latest operating system. I'm waiting for a new one to be delivered. So this blogpost is taking rather a long time to load photos ad its been a long time since I even posted here as I find computing very frustrating at the moment.
Wearing my Hieke
This year I have again been studying raranga and we started the year making hieke which is a type of Maori  rain cape. The base underneath is made of jute string which is what we beginners started with. The top part is mainly shredded harakeke (NZ flax) and the bottom is New Zealand flax which has rolled up into tight straws called pokinikini. In the background is an example of harakeke, the plant that we use to weave baskets and make these sorts of cloaks.
Pake (pronounced packay)
This is the second cloak we made this year. Mine was the only bright blue one though. String is made from the the interior fibres of the flax leaf. I dyed mine with dyes suitable for cellulose fibres. There are pokinikini at the bottom of the fibre strings.


These two years of learning Maori weaving have been very exciting and have taken me away from quilts and textiles. I have learned a lot about weaving, Maori language  and about New Zealand. 






Sunday, April 7, 2019

Ailsa Craig Quilt and Fibre festival

In mid May a group of New Zealand quilt tutors will set out for Canada to teach at the Ailsa Craig Quilt and Fibre Festival.  An exhibition of quilts made by the tutors were sent off a few months ago to take part in a road show to promote the festival, then the 100 quilts from around the country were sent off last week in a huge parcel along with challenge quilts with the them "New Zealand through Our Eyes".

I'm starting to think about which quilts to take with me. It's a choice between having enough clothes for the festival and for 3 weeks travel in Canada afterwards, and having a good selection of quilts for people to see in class. Maybe I don't need clothes!

I'm teaching my Spiky Trees class . Here are some of the quilts I've made in the past. Past students have made quilt tops of plants such as Aloe (South Africa), grass trees and palms (Australia), agapanthus and cacti (in the UK). Its always interesting to see which pictures people bring with them to use as inspiration for their quilt top.

The New Zealand Cabbage Tree (Cordyline Australis)

Cordyline Australis

New Zealand Lancewood

New Zealand flax bush (Phormium Tenax)

Spinnifex on a New Zealand beach (our sand is grey )



Another class I'm teaching is based on utility quilts. In Australia these are called 'wagga quilts' this is probably because the quilts were often backed with flour sacks from the Wagga Wagga flour mills.
Wagga were made from discarded clothing often covered with a final layer of cretonne curtain fabric. When the top layer of fabric is removed, the layers of clothing can be seen. A childs jersey, a mans overcoat, a wool skirt - anything to keep warm. They are like a history of a family in discarded clothing.

I've used this layering of clothing to signify 'layers of lives'. Sometimes I embroider genetic symbols on top of the clothing, sometimes I have screen printed on the fabrics. I often use this method of laying out fabrics or clothing as a background and then add something else on the surface.

3 layers of lives quilts displayed as 'genetic history' cloaks

Granny Smith (using doilies and household linens as the background)

Layers of lives (inspired by the book 'the seven daughters of Eve'


Wagga quilt over printed with genetic information

layers of kimonos (after the Tsunami in Japan)

crossover wagga/japanese boro

Layers of Lives - white office shirts (and DNA image on the surface)

The final classes I'm teaching are to create simple kono (baskets).In New Zealand we would weave with harakeke (NZ flax). This is not available in Canada so we will be using willow bark. I'm going to try and take a bit of harakeke with me so people can see what it is like.

The way we cut the harakeke leaving the three central leaves

two kono (square baskets)

a selection of 4 and 2 corner kono
I understand that the two weaving class are full but there are still spaces in the wagga and spiky trees classes. If you are interested in my classes but need more information, please don't hesitate to ask questions and I'll try and explain anything that doesn't make sense. 

I look forward to Ailsa Craig Festival and hope to see some of your there.
Nga Mihi (regards)
Clare



Friday, November 23, 2018

Raranga Exhibition - Te Wananga o Aotearoa Porirua 2018.

Raranga (weaving) exhibition, 2018.
Potae (hats)

mostly kete timata

mostly kete pikau (backpacks)

ipu putiputi (flower arrangements, kete, wallhangings)



Learning to weave Harakeke part 2.

The course at the Wananga is nearly over, we are currently having our exhibition and our opening was last night. The course is 10 months long and counts as full time but most people are able to work full time as the classes are 5-9pm on a Wednesday and once a month there is a full weekend of 5pm friday to 2pm on sunday. Most new skills are taught on the full weekend.

here are a few of the kete I have made in the second half of the year. I have been exploring the use of dyes and weaving with flax that has been harvested and prepared then boiled and dried for 4-6 weeks before dyeing and weaving. I'm still getting used to the amount of time the flax needs to be soaked to get it flexible enough to weave with. Too wet and it dries with gaps, too dry and it cracks while I'm working with it.
patterned kete pikau (backpack)

patterned kete Timata

Patterned kete timata with 4 plait shoulder strap

kete pikau with patikitiki pattern (the flounder)

kete pikau with patikitiki pattern (the flounder)

kete pikau with patikitiki pattern (the flounder)

Kete porowhita with whakapuareare (holes)

kete whakairo (fine weave) with holes

kete whakairo

kete porowhita

the poster for our student show

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Learning to weave with Harakeke (NZ Flax)

This year is my year of Raranga. Raranga is Maori weaving with Harakeke (New Zealand flax or Phormium Tenax). I should have done this years ago as I have found that I love it. In fact, I think it would have given me a greater connection to New Zealand if I had learned this, way back in 1975 when I arrived from England although maybe I wouldn't have been ready for it then.

Here are some photos of the things I have made in the course so far. It is a one year course at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, in Porirua.

At the beginning of the year we started making putiputi. Flowers made from Harakeke. Our first assignment was to make some sort of flower arrangement and I made a Christmas wreath.

Lily Whakairo

Koru

Pohutukawa

Christmas wreath
We then learned how to make Kono and Konae. Simple baskets and small mats and then pot (hats.
Our most recent assignment was Kete using undyed, green harakeke. As it is green it shrinks a bit as it dries so there will always be gaps in the weave, but the gaps are getting narrower.
Potae (hats)
The two hats on the left were made very early on. The weave is quite gappy. I filled in the gaps by weaving coloured harakeke strips through the holes.

Kete Timata showing gaps in the weave

kete timata showing improvements

Kete Porowhita (round) showing vast improvement!


Kete Pikau (backpack)


Latest backpack which hasn't got straps yet

Kete Kupenga (seafood basket using a special kupenga knot)

Kete Kai (seafood basket)
So that is where I'm up to in class and my weaving is improving all the time. I'm still a beginner and have a long way to go but I can really see the improvement.

Other than the main class I also made a Wahakura with a private tutor.  A Wahakura is a baby bed. These are used where families co-sleep. it helps to prevent SIDS (cot death). The weave is different to the method we are learning in class.
Large wahakura

Thinking very hard

wrestling with an octopus