Thursday, December 24, 2009

Screenprinting and cushions

I've been working on screenprinting the very large piece of fabric for the grass commission piece. This is a huge quilt. 11.7 metres wide and 2.5 metres long. I couldn't fit it on my printing tabel so have been using the local art school's facilities. This is a shot of some of the printing.

At the same time I have also been making some cushions for a company for Xmas presents. The idea was from Kirsty Duncan's blog. She was using felt flowers which her sister sells.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I have a commission and have been painting fabric for the background. It is going to be 1.7metres wide and 2.5metres long when I finish it. It is so wide that it doesn't fit on my painting table (actually a table tennis table). I have had to attach the corners on one side to strings which are attached to the rafters in the garage so that it doesn't dry with lines down the side.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tips From Your Nana

I'm in a book called 'Tips from Your Nana' which was released today. I did mention that I'm not a Nana but the author said that was OK. I haven't seen it yet myself yet but I'm pretty sure our cat Jack managed to get into the photo. It's aimed at young people and is a 'how to' book with instructions on everything from keeping chickens to making peppermint tea.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More photos of japan

The blow-up NZ rugby ball under the Tokyo Tower (actually its round the back where no-one can see it)
Notice on door of lift
james finds his dream roller coaster at Tokyo Dome
I didn't know that you get a container full of ball bearings to play pachinko. I thought they were just slot machines.
Shrine on Miyajima Island
A jellyfish on parade at Jidai Matsuri Parade, Kyoto.
Some sort of dessert!
Autumn festival at Meiji Jingo Shrine, Tokyo
Map-eating deer, Nara.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More Boro textile info

The last two posts have been about Boro textiles. I have since found a website from the UK about sashiko which is very good.

The catalogue for the exhibition of Boro I found (by accident) in Tokyo is available to order from Gallery Tsumugi
Thanks to Donna Watson for her advice on this.

I've been having a go myself at Sashiko, and here are the results. Very traditional at the moment but liable to change at any time!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boro Exhibition no 2

This is the second post about the exhibition of Boro textiles at Amuse Gallery, Asakusa, Tokyo. The pieces that amazed me were the huge kimono which were about 6-7ft tall when they were hung but were made for a person to sleep inside during winter, the padding is about 2-3 cm thick and they are made of layers of fabric and what looked like cotton stuffing. many of the layers were shredded down to just the area around previous stitching.

Boro Exhibition in Tokyo

These are photos from an exhibition I discovered by accident in Tokyo 2 days ago. The exhibition wasn't opening till the next day but I was allowed in because I was leaving that evening and I'd had my business card translated into Japanese which helped. Some stuff about the exhibition can be found at and there is a book called 'Boro: rags and tatters from the Far North of Japan'. I wasn't able to buy the book as the shop wasn't open and I haven't been able to find a copy online as most places have sold out. Instead I got a different book which is all in Japanese and available in japan at Kinokuniya Bookshop in Tokyo if anyone is going there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spiky Trees class

This post is for people taking the Spiky trees class. The photo on the left shows a completed cabbage tree quilt with a pieced pale blue background. Any background piecing and arranging should be done before the class as you need a bit of time to get the best arrangement. Piecing the background is purely optional as we will also paint a suitable piece of fabric for the sky or you can use a piece of fabric you already have at home. About 1metre square is about the maximum size that works in a class situation and depends a lot on the size of the tables.

This is a dark blue background without the tree fused on top. There are lots of seams but they are mostly covered by the leaves in the finished quilt.

Below are fabrics suitable for the leaves of the spiky trees. A range of greens can be used including hand dyes and prints. Try to vary the print sizes as using all small print fabric gives the tree a faded look so a few big prints are good. A fabric with a big print in black and white could be painted over with green if you have nothing suitable in green. Inks will be available in class for this purpose. A green fabric with some sort of metallic gold print can look good too.

The brown fabrics below are useful for the dead leaves under the cabbage tree or flax as well as for the tree trunk.

My apologies to anyone not signed up to do this class who is reading this.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hand/Eye magazine

I found a fantastic magazine on sale at Minerva Gallery in Wellington (New Zealand). It is called hand/eye magazine and the first issue was all about crafts from Africa. Lots of textile crafts, beading and baskets. The photography is amazing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aotearoa Textiles

Aotearoa Textiles grew out of the Australian Textile Forums. It is held at Lindale Campus of Whitireia Polytech near Parparaumu. This year the dates are 5th-9th of October 2009.

There are still spaces in some workshops, I have signed up for a course in basket making with Deb Price. I've always wanted to make baskets and I seem to have accumulated quite a few over the years. I still have the ones I bought with my pocket money when I was a kid in Kenya in the late 60's and they have survived insect attack and damp (Wellington is damp). The class list for the basket course says bring a basket for show and tell, I am going to have a hard time choosing which one to take.

If anyone wants to do a course you can get details from Kapiti Campus
Whitiriea Community Polytechnic
04 2980205

there is space in
LESLEY HANSARD – Workshop - Discover The 3-D Life Of Felt
CATHERINE O’LEARY – Workshop - It’s A Wrap
Expand your design ideas with wool fibre and silk fabrics, working with nuno prefelts. We will be developing an individual pattern for a wrap skirt or wrap vest, focusing on ornamentation, decoration and unusual piecing together.

JAE MARIES - Workshop – Contrasting Elements
The workshop’s purpose is to broaden students’ horizons within the field of textile art by encouraging them to explore the dynamic effect that “Contrasting Elements” can bring to their work through the selective use of colour, design, materials and contrasting techniques. All levels of experience are welcome and as the week progresses each person will work individually from their own resource material. This can be in the form of sketches, photographs or ideas. Each student will create unique personal pieces of experimental hand and machine stitched textiles within the theme of ‘Contrasting Elements’.

DEB PRICE – Workshop - Baskets And Beyond
Be inspired by world-wide weaving methods to create unique baskets, vessels and sculptural forms. Coiling, twining, plying, braiding and noodling (random needle darning) are some of the techniques that will be demonstrated and that can be applied to a variety of materials. This course will focus mainly on the use of Harakeke (NZ flax), a plant endemic to New Zealand and renowned for its long, strong, sweet smelling fibres.
Explore, experiment. Enjoy...

ADRIENNE SLOANE – Workshop - Artful Knit
A sculptural approach to knitting. This class will help students develop a personal language of forms, by experimenting with knitting fundamentals, to uncover the enormous possibilities of three dimensional knit. By manipulating stitches and solving knitting geometry, participants will learn to think knit. The class will explore the use of non-traditional materials and cover a range of dimensional techniques to help create shape and stability. There will be opportunity to work on specific sculptural projects to innovatively incorporate these ideas. For inspiration, we will view a slide show of artists who use knitting techniques as a means of creative expression. Participants must be proficient in knitting basics. Knowledge of crochet is also helpful.

NEKE MOA – Workshop - Textile Connections
The objective of the class is to introduce students to jewellery techniques and develop skills to further enhance and extend their own art practice. Students will have the opportunity to design and make jewellery items, brooches, earrings using various low tech techniques. There will also be a demonstration of soldering and other jewellery techniques that students may have an opportunity to do.
These techniques will include: cold connections;– brooch backs; Ear hooks; Jump rings.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I took a quilting friend around Wellington to look for silk fabrics and she spent up large. She bought 10cm minimum of lots of very beautiful silks including one that was $250 a metre. Thank goodness I don't work in silk.

If anyone is in Wellington, New Zealand, Asia Gallery in Kilbirnie is bursting with silk kimonos, silk lengths and scraps at the moment. Well worth a visit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How to Print with a Fish

Fishface 50cm X 50cm

Step 1
First select your fish! It needs to be one that has scales and fins that stick out. Don't let the fishmonger remove the scales. The one I am using is a New Zealand Terakihi which was being disposed of at the supermarket. Poor thing had lost it's tail and was past it's use-by date so couldn't be sold to be eaten. You can't eat it after you have painted it but you can refreeze it to paint again another time.

Step 2
Dry it off with paper towels and put it on some old newspaper.

Step 3
Using fabric paint and a 2 inch housepainting brush, paint the fish upwards towards the head. This forces paint under the scales which gives a better print. Try not to paint too thickly and don't leave brush marks as they will show on your print.

Here Fred has been painted with silver fabric painting ink. Move the fish off the paper you painted it on, onto a clean sheet. Try to make the fins stick up and spread the tail out.

Step 4
Lay fabric on top of the fish and gently smooth the fabric over the body and around the sides, making sure you don't squash down the fins or close the tail up.

Step 5
Peel away fabric. Hopefully you have a good print. You can also print using acrylic paints and tissue paper or other thin flexible paper if you don't want to use fabric .

Step 6
Wait till the ink is dry. Iron the print to set the ink. Hand wash to remove any fish smell.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Making it back!

I'm starting to feel like I am coming back to real life after my enforced home detention (post surgery). I'm still not allowed to lift stuff and can't go back to work just yet but I feel pretty good and its hard not to do too much. But I have been warned that 'overdoing it will result in 'reverse stitching' so I have to be restrained.

So far I have completed a jersey for my 2 year old nephew. It took 2 years to knit the back and 2 days to finish the front and sleeves. Its just as well that I completed it, it fits right now, but maybe not for long. Then I made him a hat from a pattern I found on and then a scarf for me. I'm tied to home at the moment so its great to be able to find free patterns online. There are about a gazillion groups as well that meet through ravelry including some for quilters who also knit.

I've been surfing the internet for large chunks of the day recently so here are some of my favourite sites to have a look at

Robot Walrus

Margarita Sampson

Nigerian letter-scam generator

Pink Penguin

Burning Man festival

Apart from surfing the internet I have been devising some very basic quilt ideas for a chapter of a 'how -to' book being published in New Zealand which will cover things 'your parents and grandparents should have taught you'. The author came to visit and went home with fabric scraps and vliesofix to have a go herself.

One of my quilts is going on holiday to France with the exhibition 'Made in New Zealand' curated by New Zealand Quilter magazine. It is called 'Storm at Sea' and is at the top of this post. The other exciting news is that my son James and I are going to Japan in October as part of a group visiting Sakai which is Wellington's sister city. I am really looking forward to that.

Enough for one post. I have a fish and will print with it and post the instructions here.


Monday, June 22, 2009

A bit of time out

A detail shot of Clare Plug's quilt 'Icecrack 6'. Clare went to Antarctica a couple of years ago as a visiting artist and currently has a wonderful exhibition at Napier Museum which will travel to Manawatu, Christchurch and I think Auckland.

Ronnie Martin from Nelson made a quilt showing the possibilities of sea level rise
Above shot is from Left to right - my quilt 'Irrigation', Cheryl Comfort's quilt 'Unless', Ronnie's quilt 'Changing Tides' and Jenny Bowker's quilt 'Hot Water, Dead Sea'.

I've neglected the Blog whilst having a spot of surgery. I still get a bit dizzy if I sit up for too long so its been hard to keep up with email etc. We had a nice article about the 'Change in the Weather' show in last Saturday's (20th June) Dominion Post newspaper thanks to Ann Packer. Here are some further photos of the quilts in the show.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Climate Change exhibition continued

This is a detail shot of Cheryl Comfort's quilt which was extremely hard to photograph! Her quilt and statement were getting a lot of attention at the opening of the exhibition. This is her statement.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot
nothing is going to get better
It’s not.
The Lorax
Dr Seuss

Unless we change
Unless we take responsibility
Unless it’s a hoax
Unless I make a change
Unless we do it now

Above is the quilt by Gloria Loughman which is on the exhibition invitation. It is called Acid Rain.

This is a detail of Dijanne Cevaal's quilt, called 'Extreme Conditions'. It is inspired by her diary entry on the day of the big fires in Victoria, Australia.

A Change in the Weather Exhibition

Well the exhibition is open now at Minerva Gallery (237 Cuba St, Wellington) and it looks great. The theme is Climate change and we had a scientist, Howard Larsen, from the Ministry For the Environment say a few words to open the exhibition. We had planned to get my husband to do this as he is also a climate change scientist but he was away in Europe on the day.

The quilts are all about 50cm wide by 150cm long which is a good size for that gallery and gives a lot of nice space around the quilts.

The quilt above is mine and is about irrigation.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Making changes

I haven't written here for weeks because life got in the way. In that time I have organised volunteers to paint the inside of the scout hall and spent huge amounts of time down there myself painting and moving stuff back to where it should be and I have waited round for flooring people to arrive to give quotes to put in new lino.
I worked a few days teaching First Aid and then gave 6 weeks notice after a guy pointed a gun at me. It was one of those replica guns that are actually lighters but its pretty hard to tell when you are busy teaching and someone points something like that at you. That was the last straw and I decided that the really good classes no longer outweighed the terrible classes. So maybe I'll live on my savings and make a few quilts for a while.

I'm making a quilt for an exhibition called 'A Change in the Weather' which will be at Minerva Gallery in Cuba St, Wellington, in June and then at The Cloakroom Gallery in Queenstown in July. The theme is Climate Change and the group making the exhibition has varying levels of knowledge on the topic and includes at least one climate change sceptic which should make things interesting.
The exhibitors are all Australian and New Zealand quilters. Wendy Lugg, Margery Goodall, Dijanne Cevaal, Gloria Loughman, Sue Wood, Jenny Bowker, Clare Plug, Clare Smith, Ronnie Martin, Cheryl Comfort, Sue Wademan.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

painting the hall (instead of fabric)

I've spent the week getting the local scout hall ready for painting, letting the volunteers from BNZ bank in to paint the hall, painting a second coat on a couple of side rooms, waiting for people to come and measure up rooms for laying lino and getting ready to a working bee on sunday to paint another coat on the main hall. It would be nice to paint some fabric and make a quilt. Maybe next week (after I have made the scout vests).
I have a bad habit of getting everything out of the way before I get on with my quilts, the trouble is - everything else never ends if you are volunteer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The end of the exhibition

We just took down the Wellington Symposium exhibition and that is a rotten job. These are the things I learned.
1. Some of the most experienced quilters have the worst labels on their quilts (biro on a scrappy piece of fabric with crossings out).
2. Some of the most experienced quilters do not send any packaging to send their quilts home again or any courier tickets to pay to send them home (maybe they thought the quilts would sell?)
3. Send a good solid box or courier packet not a rubbish sack to get your quilt home again. Who knows who will put your masterpiece out with the rubbish.

At the end there was a massive pile of courier parcels and nothing missing . I hope never to be involved with packing up such a large exhibition ever again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pink Hair

I don't know who this man is but he is the ultimate patient husband. he was waiting for his wife to finish shopping in the merchants mall at the Wellington Quilt Symposium. Above him is the sign pointing to shopping.

I always wanted to have pink hair and as I was dared to dye my hair pink at the last symposium, I went ahead this time. I rather like it. It took my husband about half an hour to notice :-)
I am holding up someone's 'spiky tree' top they have made in class at the Wellington Quilt Symposium. I have finished teaching now and tomorrow I will take a class with Ann Fleeton.
Tonight there was a marvellous talk by Libby Lehman about organising your sewing room. Her room was so organised that after a while I felt like banging my head against the seat in front. It was very humorous but mission impossible for me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wellington Quilt Symposium

I have been helping to hang the quilts for one of the exhibition halls at for the Quilt Symposium. It looks really good and I learnt a huge amount about hanging an exhibition and making it look good. Kathy Morrison was the exhibition designer and she must have spent weeks moving all the little pictures of the quilts around to find the right ones to hang together and the exact spacing between them. Here is a picture of the quilt that I have in the exhibition. I only entered one because that is all I had at the time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

reverse stitching

Yesterday I quilted half a quilt using straight lines about 3 mm apart. Today I am unpicking them because the batting was too puffy and the backing got more and more tangled. I was trying to save money so used what I had, instead of buying what I needed. Poo

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scout Conference

I spent the weekend at a Scout Conference where they launched the new brand, logo, slogan etc. They had some good speakers and we all came out energized and ready to sort out the world, or at least out little scout areas/groups/troops anyway.

Now that is out of the way I can concentrate on getting ready for the New Zealand Quilt Symposium. I was a late ring-in as a tutor because I thought I would be more involved on the organising committee so didn't apply to be a tutor but was added to the list later. Consequently I have very small classes so we should be able to spread out and take over all the tables.
I still have to dye metres of blue fabric for kits and find stuff for a class I am taking myself with Ann Fleeton (felt making). Clare

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gardening day

I have had the best day. I pulled up a load of dying tomato plants and put in cauliflowers, lettuces and onions. Then I made a 1 metre square wire cage to go over the top to stop the birds from digging all the plants up again.
It was a great relief not to be forcing information into people's heads but instead doing something soothing like gardening. I can't believe I never discovered it earlier in my life. Now to deal with several kilos of green tomatoes and several more of red ones.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Great Craft materials garage sale

We did well. 5 of us successfully managed to rid ourselves of boxes and boxes of craft materials and did not let it all back into the house/garage or studio again afterwards. Now I just have to go to the Scout hall and load up the remains to take it to the tip recycling shop, the second hand book shop or a school.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Angry Whopper

What's it like when it's not angry?


Some things catch your eye and in a blink they can be gone again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life gets in the way

I was on a roll, I had ideas and I was making things. Then I had to go back to work. I shouldn't complain as I had last week off which was great. But this week I am teaching first aid because they couldn't find anyone else to take the course. So much for me not working very much till after Easter. Then went straight from the course to take James to a piano lesson and from there we had about three bites of dinner before hading off to Venturers where the kids saw a presentation on Venture which is a big 'Jamboree' type camp for Venturers (older scouts). So the new quilt is just hanging there, all forlorn and untouched, just waiting for me to have chance to get back to it....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I am making a series of long thin quilts at the moment and I got stuck on the current one, so in my usual way I decided to go shopping but then got distracted by the movie, 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'. In spite of its terrible reviews it actually has a bit of a message, didn't work on me though as I went straight out and bought fabric after the movie. I bought plain white fabric so that I can dye 3 metres of pale blue sky fabric for kits for people who have ordered them for my 'Cabbage tree' class at the Wellington Quilt Symposium at Easter. It is unheard of for me to buy only three metres of plain white fabric, I normally buy a whole bolt, but after paying my accountant to do my tax return and then having to pay tax, I am too broke to buy a bolt of fabric. isn't that a vicious cycle. Maybe the movie did work after all - at least I didn't buy the fabric on the VISA.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Painting Fabric

Today I finished the Websearch article I write for New Zealand Quilter magazine and then painted lots of fabric. I use heatset screen printing ink and just kind of slosh it on and work out if the fabric is useable after it's dry. Mostly I find I use the weirdest smudged stuff first. I am working in the garage as its really windy outside, I have run out of space to hang the fabric so now it's draped over the car. Hopefully my son isn't expecting a lift home from Scouts. Tomorrow I might buy a fish and post a 'how-to print with a fish' then the title of this blog will make sense.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A real person's studio

Probably this is part of the reason I can't always get a lot done. I know I am lucky to have a room to work in, and not just a corner of the dining room table like some people but I wish I was better at dealing with clutter.


Just when I thought I was on a roll last week, actually getting into the sewing room and making 2 small quilts and starting a 3rd larger one, quilting has been sidelined again. I had to write a newsletter for the Keas, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers, start off a fundraiser selling spring bulbs (seems weird to sell spring bulbs when its still the tail end of summer), go into my work and pick up paperwork to teach a new course on safety in the workplace and I need to write my regular article for New Zealand Quilter. All these little bits mean I haven't made it into the sewing room/studio at all. Why is it that I don't seem to be able to work on my stuff until I have completed everything for everyone else? Does everyone else have this problem or do they just get on with it? Did I mention the 10 kilos of cherry tomatoes that are sitting waiting to be dried and the pear and ginger jam?
Blocked by the details

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jack the Cat

Our cat Jack always seems to lie down in the most awkward place. Here he is lying on the train tracks. He is a very insistent Burmese and he has all of us under control.


Here is a spider web which I photographed when we were stuck in a long traffic jam. I had to wait till my husband had inched the car forward to get the light coming from the right angle.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Artichoke flower and Bumble Bee

There don't seem to be any honey bees around this year in my garden but at least we still have bumble bees. This one was positively drunk on pollen in the artichoke flower.