Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Art and Textiles in Samoa

I recently had 2 weeks holiday in Samoa with the intention of resting and doing a lot of reading and swimming (as physiotherapy for my neck). The first week was very restful, it was very hot and i spent a lot of time in the swimming pool and also did a bit of snorkeling on the reef.

The second week, I volunteered to help at Tiapapata Arts Centre. I expected to just help with classes but was booked to teach one fabric printing class with kids and 3 adult classes (bookmaking, mono printing and natural dyeing) and to do a talk about my work. It was a great week, it got me started thinking about art again after all the focus on hospitals and my health.

 I found the heat very tiring in Samoa, as my body still can't cope with heat or cold very well. The thyroid deals with that sort of metabolic stuff and my medication isn't quite at the right level yet. Luckily the art centre is high up in the hills above Apia and much cooler which was great.

The art centre runs classes for children and adults , and has an Artist in Residence programme and occasional visiting artist/craftspeople as volunteers who help with classes. It also has 3 accommodation options if people want to stay, including a tree house and two flats.  While I was there, the owners were preparing for an Art Therapy symposium  which was held in the studio, with visiting speakers from Australia.

Here are some photos of the studio and grounds of Tiapapata arts centre.

Tiapapata Art Workshop
While I was at the workshop, one of ladies at my talk,  showed me how to print using the wooden boards which used to be used for printing Tapa cloth but are now used for printing Elei fabric. 
Elei fabric printing
Roll the textile ink on a board or glass sheet

Roll the ink onto the carved wooden board

another board pattern

lay the fabric over the board and rub the back of the fabric with a scrumpled plastic bag

after rubbing from back

Printed fabrics, showing repeat patterns. 
It is much harder to match up the pattern repeat than it is for screenprinting. It really needs two people and I was only moderately successful at it on my own. Luckily I tend to cut up my fabric and use it for patchwork or collage rather than in long dress lengths. There is very little cotton fabric available in Apia, as most people prefer Polycotton. It doesn't absorb as much ink and prints very well, but I still prefer cotton if I can get it.

Here are some fabrics I bought in Apia. The main souvenirs in Apia are fabric lengths and wooden items. There are lots of hand printed fabrics using the Elei method above or screen printed. Most of the screen printing is done using a stencil made of old X-ray film on the back of the screen. I've found this often makes a blob of ink as the squeegee goes over the cut edge, and I found signs of the 'blob' on lots of fabric lengths at the market. Its quite easy to see which fabrics have been screen printed and which have been rubbed on the carved boards.

I bought 4 of the stencils made of X-ray film. They were 10-15 tala each (about NZ$5 -$7). They are beautifully accurate and I was told that they are often sold by students from the local art school. When I let school I trained as a radiographer so I was quite interested in the X-rays as they still have the name and left or right lead markers showing on them.

I'm slowly sorting out my photos from the trip and hope to add more over the next few days.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Updated quilt - complete...

Here it is , finished. The new border is sewn on, it has a more conventional hanging sleeve and a label on the back. It is rectangular , the photography isn't that brilliant , and it is rather unevenly quilted so I might do a bit of tweaking to make it hang flat. It looks a lot better without the ugly black borders. For a little quilt made 25 years ago, it doesn't look too bad. The screen printing ink hasn't faded very much at all, and once I'd got the dust off, it brightened up considerably. All in all, I'm very pleased.

Before shot

After finishing the quilt I made something for a challenge I'd given my Facebook friends, Many of us have been stuck at home due to bad weather, illness or in my case , treatment which makes me radioactive, so I have been stuck at home since Wednesday.

I have wanted to make a teacup pin cushion for some time. It is cute and girly and not at all conceptual, just the thing for a rainy afternoon. The glue is still wet. I think I might need a lie down now...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Updating an old quilt

6pm. A long long time ago, in a small town in a faraway country…well it was Goulburn in Australia…I screen printed some fabric while at the art school at Goulburn TAFE and turned it into a quilt. The fabric design was from a drawing which I made whilst listening to a piece of music, in this case it was Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. As art students it was deemed that we should do music classes and the music students should do art. Both groups hated it at the time but I can see it had merit now.

I didn't know how to make a quilt and didn't know how to machine quilt, but I had done a one day class in machine embroidery.

- The batting is the fat stuff, the stuff you get sold at Spotlight if you don't know to ask for 'lo-loft'.
- I broke about 13 needles, largely because my machine didn't have a darning foot or drop its feed dogs and I used a spring loaded needle.
- I didn't know the quilting was supposed to show on the back so I covered it up because there were lots of tucks.
-I must have decided to make the quilt bigger after quilting it, so I had added black borders then tacked extra batting around to make it puffy.
-there was no hanging sleeve, I covered the stick with black fabric and attached the stick to the top of the quilt with tacking stitches.

Then when I came back to New Zealand, my brother liked it so I gave it to him and recently (well at least 2 years ago) he gave it back because it needed the stick to be re-attached.

Today I decided it needed to be updated, the border fabric has faded but the screen printed fabric looks as bright as when it was first printed.

I've unpicked the border which goes right round to the back (told you I didn't know how to quilt).  Here are some photos of my machine quilting circa 1999.
Note the thick batting , the stuff around the outside was tacked on later, to fill the border.



I now teach machine quilting which shows that anyone can improve with practice. I definitely learnt a lot from that quilt and a few years later, through the internet and talking to other quilters , I learned about lo loft batting, dropped feed dogs, darning feet, and how to avoid coggles and folds.

Everyone has to start somewhere…

I'll update this post as I update the quilt, a nice green border to diminish the black I think…

Borders taken off, it definitely looks better
Now , what to bind it with?
No, wrong green


This is more promising...
But it's too small!
This is followed by turning the entire room upside down to find a bigger bit of fabric. Now I have decided to do 3 sides in this over dyed fabric (it was black and white once) and the top binding will be black. Hopefully that will work, or if all else fails I will 'face' it which will be hard because the batting is so fat that the fabric won't want to be turned to the back.

To be continued...

NB. If anyone is interested in learning more about my Thyroid journey I've made a separate blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Local news, marking time...

It's 7 weeks since I had my thyroidectomy, I'm healing well, but I'm just really marking time till the next stage of the journey. On the 7th of April I go 'radioactive'! It's a thyroid thing…but to prepare for that, I have had to stop taking the medication which I take to replace what the thyroid does normally, and I also have to eat a low iodine diet to make the thyroid cancer cells desperate, then ZAP!

In the meantime here are a few things I have been doing recently.
I managed to get to see the sculpture exhibition 'Shapeshifter' on about the last day of the Wellington Festival of the arts.
Yes this is a sculpture

Last weekend I went to the Wine Country quilt exhibition in Waipukurau which is about 4 hours from Wellington. My quilt group, Coastal Quilters, hired a bus and we left at 7.30am and got back in the late afternoon.
My favorite quilt was by Lyn Stoddart, and was a wonderfully warm wool 'wagga'' style quilt.
This week I have also been taking photos of slightly silly signs.

This is a painting on a power box, the eyes are stuck on later by some joker! 

Add caption

Why not just print the letters smaller?

sparrows eating the bread outside the bread shop

 The weather today from Tawa Countdown supermarket. Looks quite rural really
below is more like it, our street is all dug up and has been for weeks. Its hair raising driving over these drawbridges and sometimes I can't get out of the driveway at all.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Surgery :-(

Hi everyone
I wasn't sure whether to post this or not. It feels like I am just making excuses for not updating my blog but in the end I decided that I would write it down in case it helps anyone else.
After many years of having a lump on my thyroid checked it was biopsied and suspicious cells were found. At the beginning of February I had a thyroidectomy and on Monday I will also be told of the pathology results and plans for follow up treatment. If it is cancer, it is very treatable and most people do well after the initial hiccup of surgery then getting medication right. So if you have a lump in your neck, go and see the doctor.

I'm not getting very much done at the moment, I'm sleeping a lot and going to a lot of appointments either for myself or with my mother who is also going through hospital treatment. I have however been invited to join a group of textile artists who have a website called Through Our hands. They represent a wonderful lineup of textile artists and I'm very excited to be asked to be a member of the group.

here is the only thing that I've worked on recently, it is a class sample for the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in January 2015. I'm hoping to quilt it and take better photos next week when my scar has healed up a bit. At the moment it is a bit hard to stretch my arms out, looking up is even harder!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fabric shopping in Wellington, New Zealand

A few shops have opened and others have closed so I thought it was time to update my list of Wellington fabric shops. Here are suggestions from Coastal Quilters group for shops in the Wellington area.

Arthur Toye - closing, last day 31st january 2014.    General sewing fabrics and cheaper quilting fabrics
The Grand Arcade
16 Willis st

Sheherazad - Closing, silks are on sale 50-70% off.   Beautiful silks!
Shop 38-40, Level B1, 
1 Willis StreetWellington Central, 
Wellington 6011

Wellington Shops

Arthur Toye - closing, last day 31st january 2014.    General sewing fabrics and cheaper quilting fabrics
The Grand Arcade
16 Willis st

Sheherazad - Closing, silks are on sale 50-70% off.   Beautiful silks!
Shop 38-40, Level B1, 
1 Willis StreetWellington Central, 
Wellington 6011

Busy Bee     - quilting fabrics and machine quilting  
14 Kingsford Smith St
04 387 7115

Stitchbird Fabrics - fabric and novelties
Shop 19 Kilbirnie Plaza
22 Bay Road

Wellington Sewing Services - sewing machines, fabrics, knitting wool
Shop 3, Kilbirnie Plaza 22 Bay Rd, Kilbirnie
04-387 4505

Piece by Piece Ltd - fabrics

Shop 3, 
149 Karori Rd Wellington

Nancys Embroidery


Fabric Warehouse


Kapiti Coast shops

Fabric by Three 

Waikanae at 17 Fleetwood Grove, specialising in hand dyed fabric and open by appointment – 04 293 3794

Fibre Flair in Waikanae.

Bernina in Kapiti,

Hutt Valley

Quiltworks in High Street Lower Hutt

Sawmillers Quiltery

More to be added soon, have to take the cat to the vet right now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Objectspace Exhibition, costumes etc.

This is what the wallhanging at Objectspace looks like today. Next week the curator will add another color. The wheat hasn't started sprouting yet!

This week I have been making hats for a ballet performance and now I have sprayed one of them with gold and have gold fingers and bits of gold on my glasses. The next thing to do is add gold foil.

I realize that this is quite a mixture, dance costumes and conceptual object art. I guess we have to be generalists as textilists, costumes are my 'bread and butter' that is 'when i get paid' although most people are happy to pay for materials and less interested in paying for my making skills.

Here are the two hats I have been working on:

Headdress for La Bayadere , the Golden Idol
 I tried a variety of methods before settling on using some Guipure lace I had in my stash. Now I just need to find more. Lots of gold spray paint and gold foil on top. I am very pleased with the result.

Turban for the slave master guy, La Bayadere