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



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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Clare's Classes 2018

Clare Smith

all prices are in New Zealand Dollars.

1-day classes
-     Quilt Doodling (Machine Quilting) 
-     Boro and sashiko placemats 
-     Cabbage Trees  
-     The Doily Quilt 
-     Fabric painting and Printing
-     Fabric dyeing (3 classes to choose from)
-     Hand sewn books
-     The Modern Wagga
-     Beginners Screenprinting on Fabric 
    Pojagi (Korean inspired piecing)

2-day classes 
    Spiky trees and plants
-     Next step
-     Putting it into Perspective

Combined classes (2 to 5 days)
-     Indigo dyeing combined with Boro/sashiko
-     Fabric printing and painting combined with pojagi
-     Dyeing classes combined with Modern Wagga
-     (any other combination you can think of)

One day classes

Quilt-doodling and colouring-in for machine quilters
Spend a day honing your machine quilting skills by doodling using the sewing machine. When you find yourself getting tense, relax, take time out and colour in your design using fabric pens. 

Boro and sashiko Quilts or Placemats
Use some of your collection of Japanese fabrics or other scraps to make simple placemats then embellish them with sashiko stitching. These can be very organised or very random, depending on your preference (see photos)

The Doily Quilt
Have you got a cupboard full of your granny’s doilies, placemats and tablecloths? 
Use precious family linens or op-shop finds to make a quilt for the home, the bach or as a wall hanging. This quilt can be seen on the front cover of New Zealand Quilter issue 77.

No Materials fee

A Modern Wagga   
Making a quilt was historically about recycling.In this class , make  a ‘wagga’ or ‘utility’ quilt. Clothes your kids have grown out of? Things that used to belong to your granny , old doilies, aprons, teatowels?
Use recycled clothing or linens to make a quilt for the home, the bach or as a wall hanging. 

No Materials fee

Fabric Painting and Printing

Paint and monoprint on fabric using water based inks and resists (similar to batik). 

This technique class will also cover printing with found objects such as fruit and leaves as well as making print-blocks from carved erasers and lino blocks.

Materials fee approx. $20 (covers inks, resist, lino blocks)

Dye Classes 
Three classes are available
-     Dyeing cotton
-     Dyeing with indigo
-     Dyeing wool and silk
1. Dyeing cotton
Learn how to dye fabric using Procion dyes. Methods include scrunch dyeing, basic shibori and tie-dye, multi-coloured dyeing and dyeing in plastic bags. Students should end up with approx. 6 metres of dyed fabric.

Materials fee approx. $25 (covers dyes)

2. Dyeing with Indigo on cotton, silk or wool.
Indigo dyeing often seems quite complicated and can include toxic chemicals; my new method uses a squashed banana instead of the smelly chemicals!

3. Dyeing wool and silk
Learn how to dye wool fabric, felt and knitting wool using wool dyes and natural dyes. Multi-coloured dyeing, shibori and dye painting will be covered. 

Hand sewn Books  (Japanese Bookbinding)
Learn how to make basic hand sewn books. These can be used as note or sketchbooks, photo albums, quilt record books or diaries. You can bring little pieces of embroidery or quilt blocks to set into the front of the book and recycle old book covers to make new books.


Materials fee NZ$20

Beginners Screenprinting
Learn the basics of screenprinting to create unique fabrics suitable for quilting or embroidery. Use found objects and hand cut stencils to create textured backgrounds. Learn how to design repeat patterns and experiment with pre-prepared photographic silkscreen designs.

Materials fee $20

Pojagi patchwork window or wall hanging
Pojagi is a Korean form of patchwork using scraps of transparent or semi transparent fabrics such as cotton organdie or silk organza. It looks fabulous hanging in a window where the seams show up against the light, or hung away from a wall so a light can form shadows on the wall behind. Try improvised piecing or use simple patchwork block patterns of your own choice. 

Organised version

Free –style version

Two-day classes

Spiky Trees and Plants quilt.
Learn how to fuse and sew a quilt depicting a Palm, Yukka, fern, aloe, cactus or thorn tree. Some fast workers even manage to quilt their picture on the second day.

Materials charge approx NZ$10 (covers inks to paint a sky fabric for their background)

The Next Step 
Are you ready to take the step from traditional quilting into something unique but don’t know where to start?  Are you scared of the word ‘Design’ or feel you can’t draw? Learn how to make an art quilt using an art-school design trick. No two quilts the same!  Use fusible webbing to put it together and quilt it on the second day.  

NB The class samples are not what you will make in class, they just reflect the technique of putting the quilt together. Your quilt will be your original design.

Materials fee - $5 (OHP sheets)

Putting it into PERSPECTIVE
Learn how to draw in perspective, how to show the sides of buildings and how to make things come forward or recede into the picture. Everything from landscapes with buildings, beach huts, country cottages, letterboxes  or sky scrapers.

Materials fee $5 (photocopying and OHP sheets)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Aomori Japan

I love Japan. I think this is about my 8th trip here and this time we are staying away from the most touristy areas. We had a few days in Tokyo before heading straight up to Aomori on the Shinkansen using our JRPasses. We have spent the last 4 days in Hirosaki which is the centre of the largest Apple growing area of Japan and the apples are enormous! Even the smallest Fuji Apple I could find at the supermarket fed 2 of us for dessert.

This area is also where a style of Sashiko called Kogin comes from. It’s basically a running stitch originally used to strengthen fabric and make it thicker and warmer as Aomori is very cold in winter.

These are Kogin pieces in the display cases at the Hirosaki kogin institute , 61 Zaifucho-Cho, Hirosaki.
We walked there in the pouring rain yesterday at the tail end of a Typhoon. The institute will organise a workshop if you have group , an interpreter would be helpful too .
There are lots of other shops selling Kogin in Hirosaki and you can buy a kit to make your own, from the fabric shop on Chuo Dori. Just veer right from
The front of the railway station/bus station. Head up the road till you see this big store 

The fabric store is at the front of the car park. 

It has quilting fabric, sewing fabric, sewing supplies, kogin and Sashiko kits, needles etc. The prices seem better than a similar shop in Aomori City, but I suspect that is because the rent is lower in Hirosaki.

The Aomori shop

Similar sorts of sewing fabrics, quilting supplies and knitting wool. The owner speaks English I think, the signs around the shop are bilingual. The address is
Across the intersection from
The Nakasan department store. Corner of Showa Dori and Nikoniko-dori.
You will see the Japanese fabric fat quarters outside the door. 

Most of the big department stores also have a Japanese souvenir department on one of the upper floors. The Nakasan in Hirosaki has a good selection of Kogin souvenirs and a lovely selection of indigo dyed clothing which I can’t afford but I love to look at.

In Hirosaki you can also visit the Kawasaki Dyeworks shop. If you are missing your cat then this is also a good place to spend time with a very affectionate black cat who loves people. I never saw out the back where the vats are, once again I think this might be possible with the help of an interpreter.

Hirosaki and Aomori City also have great displays of Neputa. These are festival floats made of wire and painted paper with lights inside.
In Aomori they look
Like this

In Hirosaki they are fan shaped and look
Like this ( see below)

I also liked the little goldfish made from
Paper and wire. Kids carry these in the annual Neputa parade.

Last time I came to Aomori I visited the Aomori Prefectural Folk Museum which had a good display of the different Kogin motifs. A very helpful lady translated the meanings for me. They were things like ‘mountain’ and ‘butterfly’.
Unfortunately the museum is closed till
Next March. This helpful sign is in the tourist office.

There is a lot more to see in this area. I travelled from
Hirosaki to Kuroishi on Saturday for a craft fair being held at the Kokeshi Doll museum. This was on the 21/22 October in 2017. I only bought three Kokeshi dolls, and two hexagon shaped fabric brooches. It was nice to buy things from
The actual makers rather than from a shop or museum.

To get to the Kuroishi Kokeshi doll
Museum take the non JR line to Kuroishi( you have to pay if you are in a jr pass because this is a private line) then ask the information office people how to get to the Kokeshi doll museum by bus. The bus doesn’t go very often so it’s a good idea to find out what time the bus comes back too! Take a small towel so you can soak your feet in the foot baths round the back where the shops are.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

100 days Project

We are now up to day 94 of the 100 days project. Within that 100 days I  spent 35 days on holiday in Australia stitching away in dimly lit motels and hostels. I had about 15 days to catch up when i got back but I'm pretty proud of having managed to keep going despite the time away. Here are some of the techniques I used during  the 100 days. This group of stitched squares was from when I was on holiday and didn't have access to all my 'stuff'.
playing with running stitch

Playing with running stitch after visiting Uluru

Tracks on the beach from hermit crabs

French knots after seeing the sand bubbler crab's sand balls.

The 100 days squares starting to add up
Today I discovered a new process (for me). Discharging indigo using potassium Permanganate.

painting on potassium permanganate thickened with Gum Tragacanth

Starting to change colour

The gum starting to break down, looks like black currant jam.

The fabric after it has been washed in a citric acid solution and then washed and dried.
It is exciting to try a technique I hadn't done before. The recipe is from this book by Susan Bosence.
Hand Block printing and Resist Dyeing. Published in 1985.

Potassium permanganate can be pretty toxic, don't dispose of it in the environment as it kills fish. It won't be good for your septic tank either. Use with care.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

100 Days Project - 100 days of Textile experiments.

Last year I hadn't even heard of the 100 Day project till all my friends seemed to be taking part. This year I signed up so for For 100 days I will be doing textile experiments and I hope that most will be inspired by architecture that I've taken photos of whilst I've been travelling. This is a link to my project .

I am working through some of the fabrics and art materials I have accumulated over the years. The first week I used Evolon.  This is a synthetic spun polyester and nylon fabric. It feels a bit like suede. The samples are approximately 6 inches square unless they shrink when melted or I start to run out!
I bought my Evolon from Village Books and Crafts in Palmerston North.

Day 1 - I  free motion machine stitched it then painted it with dilute indian ink and acrylic paint. It spreads a bit like watercolour paints.

Day 2. I painted two different pieces with acrylic paints and fused one shape on top of the other piece. The Evolon takes the paint well and it is easy to cut intricate shapes because it doesn't fray at all. It stitches like fabric but would be better if stretched in a hoop. Unfortunately my pieces were a bit small for that so I stabilised it with fine batting.

Day 3 I monoprinted by spreading the ink on a piece of glass and then laying the Evolon on top and drawing on the back of it. It is a bit blurry as the Evolon has filaments which sort of wick away the ink. Some people use it for making watercolours as the ink soaks into the fibres

This is an image of the full 7 days of samples together.

Day 4. I used some very old transfer inks to add colour. I am limited to blue, black and red as the rest have been lost over the 15 years since I bought them.

Day 5. I stitched 2 layers of Evolon together using a picture I'd taken of a window in Ahmedabad in India. Then I heated the stitched piece with a heat gun. At first nothing happened then it started to melt and finally became quite hard and plasticky.

Day 6. I did a different type of mono print by inking the glass then drawing into the ink. I then cut out the design and tried to add foil by using fusible webbing. The iron was too hot and I managed to melt the foil and the backing onto the Evolon. The background is hand painted cotton.

Day 7. I cut out shapes in the Evolon using a soldering iron then coloured the design using transfer inks. The design comes from a window screen in Ahmedabad.

So thats the end of the Evolon. Next week I will be working with Lutrador which I bought thinking I might use and never got out of the packet.

Advantages of Evolon. It takes paints very well, it can be cut into intricate shapes without fraying or tearing. It is strong and can be burnt to make very interesting shapes. I think it will be very useful for making costumes as well as for covers for hand made books.

Lastly - This is an interview of me by Charlotte Scott  the 'SlightlyMadQuiltLady".
Here is the link. Interview Clare Smith. Charlotte asked some great questions. She is interviewing all the tutors teaching at the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in October this year.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A few things I've made in 2017 so far.

I used to say that I was a quilter, then i started saying I'm a textile artist. Now I do a whole variety of different things that have to do with textiles. It would be impossible to make a living in New Zealand as a textile artist so like many people I do a whole variety of different things to earn a living. These are just a few things that I have made this year so far.

Over the last two weeks I have been making seagull costumes for a theatre group. They will be performing  during the Capital E arts festival in Wellington. Its been a time of experimentation but also great fun. Thank you to Anna Maea Chitara for making the beaks.

I finished the seagulls yesterday so today I started work on a quilt commission. In this case its a Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt which I was given to finish. I did a similar job last year with an almost identical quilt. This one is for a man who inherited it from his Great Aunt. It is King bed sized was almost finished except for about 10 rosettes in one corner. I removed a row down one side and moved those into the corner. Next I will add borders and send it off to a commercial quilter to quilt, then I will add the binding.

Earlier this year I taught an indigo dyeing/shibori workshop for The Hutt Arts Society. Here are some of the dyed pieces that the students produced. Luckily it was a nice warm day although very windy which made it hard to work outside. Its been like that all summer really in the Wellington region.

The start of the year is also when all my classes seem to need class samples at once. These are for simple 'quilt as you go' classes at Nancys Stitch Studio in Wellington.
Shopping bag class sample for Nancys Stitch studio

Table runner using fabric I won  in a charity raffle  at Monterey Quilters

detail of quilt as you go table runner
I have also made a lot of piped cushions this year. I turn people's tapestries into cushions one day a week at Nancys Stitch Studio in Wellington. Its great to spend time in the shop, its a nice change from working at home alone.

Here are a couple more oddities made this year, I've made 3 of these giant wetas so far.