Sunday, 16 September 2007

Weaving Threads and Ribbons

A piece of hand-dyed fabric in oranges and yellows, and a pack of mainly orange, pink and purple threads was the inspiration for the playtime I had today. I attached some lengths of ribbon to a piece of water soluble fabric, then wove the threads and other ribbons through. Some of the threads varied in thickness, which added to the randomness of the grid. I then stitched up and down the short lengths to stabilise it, and allowed it to distort the grid a little more. Circles stitched over the top hold it all down.

It's all I managed to do this weekend. The call of the glorious spring weather and the garden proved too much. Who can resist being outside when the garden is at its best? The ornamental peach is contrasting beautifully with the blue blossoms of the Blue Pacific bush right beside it
I just love peach blossom. Cherry blossom is good, but peach is so much better! I just love that pink....

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Playing with hand dyed fabrics

I've been playing with more ideas for bookcovers. This one is very similar to the blue one I made a while ago, which I ended up sending to Denmark as a gift for my mother-in-law's birthday. However, this green fabric (one of Lisa's gorgeous hand dyes) "spoke" to me, and it wanted to be the background for some flowers, so that's what it became...

More flowers - it must be the spring weather and the beautiful deep pink blossoms on my peach tree that are inspiring me. This one needs lots more handstitching, but I rather like the way it's shaping up. All the fabrics in this one are Lisa's hand dyes. The flowers are made from some of the trimmings that she was going to throw out! I'm so glad that I rescued them.

Saturday, 1 September 2007


The book that I received for my birthday, "Finding Your Own Visual Language" suggests cutting stamps from plastic erasers, as an exercise in finding shapes that appeal to you. I've cut my first two, with a craft knife, and with a fair bit of difficulty. On my first one, the edges seemed very ragged. So I was sure that it was going to be a reject. I inked it up and stamped it, and was very surprised! The ragged edges actually seemed to suit the shapes. I need to do more stamping with it, and look at a lot more variations and combinations than I have here, but this is my first page -

The next one I did doesn't appeal to me as much, but I think the design has possibilities -

I took these to show a work colleague, who has now lent me a set of lino cutting tools. I tried them on the eraser in my desk at work and it was so much easier than the craft knife, which has to be "jiggled" so that each line is undercut in order to remove the pieces of eraser. So I'm off to try some more designs!

Saturday, 18 August 2007


A lovely friend of mine gave me this last week while I was in Canberra, but I was under strict instructions not to open it until my birthday. What a nice surprise. Thanks, Donna! The brooch that you made me looks great on my black jumper, too. I'll have to get a photo of that to share later.

My favourite present has been a new book - "Finding your Own Visual Language" by Jane Dunnewold, Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. It contains lots of exercises to do, so I'll share some of them over the next few weeks as I start to play. I'm really looking forward to doing this.

Meanwhile, I'm getting organised for my mother-in-law's birthday. She loves blue, so I'm sending her one of my covered books. I've also made her a birthday card. The little motif on this card was cut from a find in the local OpShop. It was a linen jacket covered randomly with beaded motifs and must have been rather expensive when it was originally bought. It was damaged, and far too small for me, but a bargain, so I bought it for the beading. I didn't quite know what I was going to do with it, and it was hard to bring myself to cut into all that workmanship, but I'll be cutting up the rest to play with now that I've made that first slash into the fabric!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

A Thank You Gift

I'm going to a "Relly Rally" this weekend over on the coast. It's because of my great-uncle's 90th birthday. Uncle Alec is my grandfather's last surviving sibling, so the family decided that it was a great opportunity to get together.

My great-grandmother lived into her 90's, so she was a rallying point for the family for a long time. I think that's why the family have remained reasonably close and enjoy a chance to get together. I'm looking forward to the reunion on Saturday, but am not really looking forward to the 5+ hours of driving to get there!

Dad and I are staying with his cousin Marion, who loves to draw and is a talented potter. I decided that a covered Visual Art Journal would probably be a good thank you gift. I love the unusual yarn that features on it. I've been trying to think of a way to use it. It gets lost if I try to use it with thicker threads, and it's not the type you can embroider with, so I've couched it down with a machine stitch. I hope Marion likes it...

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Hand Dyed Cover

A few busy weeks and weekends have left little time to make anything worth posting on the blog.
Today, though, I covered a small book, using one of Lisa's gorgeous hand dyed fabrics.

The whole piece of fabric is dyed in beautiful sunset colours - purples, pinks, yellows and oranges. I needed such a small amount for the book, that the cover really doesn't do justice to the fabric, although I managed to reintroduce some of the missing colours with the threads that I used.

I didn't do justice to the cover with my photographs, either! The edge of the cover isn't wavy, although it definitely looks that way in the photos...

This is the front -

And this is the back -

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Inklin Swap

My swaps have arrived!

These are some of the 4inch x 4inch "inklins" (see my post on 15th May) which I received in a swap. They have been mounted in a little book by the swap hostess. What a great idea, Susan! It's now sitting on my coffee table.

This is one of Jayne's - The shiny ink in the centre of the card has caught the light from the flash. The drawing is actually done in black ink, with a faint yellow outline.

This was done by Janice. I love the newspaper behind the drawing, and the little stamp in the corner.

Another one by Janice. Was it Mondrian who did paintings like this? It's very reminiscent of the 1960's and the clothes we wore - primary colours, divided into sections by areas of white and thin black lines. Very trendy!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Making a Note Book Cover

I found a gorgeous A6 size notebook in Canberra last weekend. Beautifully made, with pages made from a good quality white paper, it also has an occasional page of blue batik paper. So, armed with the book, I went into the sewing room and took hold of whatever caught my eye as a complement to the batik paper. Here's what I found...
I cut small random triangles from the orange, gold and darker blue fabrics and laid them on the blue background fabric. I then laid some hot-fix Angeline fibres over the lot and ironed it. This melted the Angelina fibres and held the triangles in place while I meandered over the top with blue thread, in a zigzag stitch.
The wool yarn that I had found had gorgeous knobbly bits on it which reminded me of flower heads, so I cut pieces to look like flower heads on stalks.
Then I sewed them onto the fabric, lined it and put a satin stitch around the edge. This is the front of the finished cover...
...and this is the back...
This is the whole cover, laid out flat.

And for those of you wondering what the inside looks it is...
Now I just have to decide whether to put it away to use as a gift, or to keep it myself...hmmm...

But I failed art at school!

Thanks for the great comments that some of you have made about my blog. However, I really have to take issue with the description of me as "artistic"! You see, that may be someone else, but it's never how I describe myself. I had to have my arm twisted quite a lot to describe myself as a textile artist on this blog.

I'm the kid who could never make a drawing that looked anything like the thing I was supposed to draw, and always had the messy handwriting. In the first year of high school, we had to study art. This always seemed to involve drawing or painting something that the teacher placed at the front of the room. I just couldn't do it. She'd look at mine, shake her head, sigh and move on to someone who showed some talent. I remember getting something like 48% at the end of the year. Friends that went to school with me think it's hilarious that people now buy some of my art!

It's only in the last fifteen years or so that I've realised that I have a bit of an eye for colour and design, and that when use a sewing machine, or a needle and thread, I lose my fear of not being able to "draw".

So...while I can doodle, and play with bits of fabric and thread, I'm not what is usually thought of as an artist! Why am I telling you this? Because those of you who have told me that I'm artistic need to realise that you are too, in some way. You just need to relax, play and develop it! Go can do it, too...

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Not new, but not blue

There hasn't been much activity in my studio over the last couple of weeks, with the result that there's been nothing to photograph and post on the blog. So, in order to satisfy those of you who only come here for the eye candy, here are a couple of photos of a book cover I made for an artist's journal about 12 months ago.
During a trip to Sydney last week for work, I escaped the 3 day conference for long enough to find some small notebooks that I'm going to cover and use as gifts for all those non-arty friends who wouldn't use artist's journals. When I got home I went looking for the photos of covers I've made up to now, to give me the inspiration I need to get started and decided that that's what I could share.
Please note also that this cover has absolutely no blue in it!(See! I CAN make things in other colours...) The background fabric is a gorgeous green-gold silk shot through with pink - one of those lucky fabric remnant finds.

This is the front...

...and this is the back...

Tuesday, 15 May 2007


A friend of mine calls these "inklins". It's a form of doodling that's very addictive.

Recently she suggested a swap, and these are my contribution to it. Each "inklin" measures 4 x 4 inches. They've been doodled on watercolour paper, using a Pigma pen. Two of the backgrounds have been coloured using a watercolour pencil.

What is it?

Okay, I'll give you a clue. It was taken on a Sunday afternoon visit to Western Plains Zoo. I love the pattern in's an echidna, or Spiny Anteater, the Australian equivalent of a porcupine.

Meanwhile, there was some nest building going on in another quarter...

And this is a Diamond Firetail, native to this area - the Western Plains of New South Wales. Isn't he handsome?
There's a gorgeous flash of scarlet wherever he flies. No wonder it's called a Firetail.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Jan's Birthday Present

Back in January, I started making a bookcover. I finished it today as a birthday present for my friend, Jan. She's recently started sketching and painting, and the cover fits an A5 size sketchbook. The sandwiched fabric has been quilted with straight machine stitching, using a blue embroidery thread, a gold thread and a metallic purple thread. I then added some beads by hand, and finished the edges with satin stitch by machine.

I sat and did this at the art group I've been invited to join, while the others sketched a group of bottles placed on the table in front of them. I learnt a lot about using charcoal and oil pastels as I watched and chatted with them, but I don't think I'll be trying to sketch anytime soon! The colours and shapes of the bottles were pretty though, so I took a photo instead...

Tuesday, 1 May 2007


I've been experimenting with ideas for Artist Trading Pins and thought I'd share some of the results.

Ages ago, I got hold of some brass shim, which I wanted to have a go at stitching into. In the book "Paper, Metal, Stitch", there are some ideas for using it and some looked as though they could make rather nice ATPs. So I decided it was time to have a go. This is the result of my first try. The background is silk paper (yes I know, I obviously have a "thing" about blue!). The shim was heated over the flame of the gas stove to colour it, and then machine stitched. It has possibilities, I think.

In the book, there's a suggestion for colouring parts of the metal with nail varnish. So, I went and bought the cheapest I could find and had a play. The light green blobs are too big, and the purply ones are too hard to find, but this idea also has possibilities. Maybe I also need to buy nail varnish that costs more than $3 a bottle, of course!

This is another thing I've been "going to" try for ages. I took some fabric that already had some thick threads machine couched onto it, cut it into triangles, wrapped it around a thick knitting needle and painted it with Mod Podge. It makes interesting beads...although they're probably not quite stiff enough. Maybe I need to paint them with Mod Podge again?

Hmmm...what can I play with next?

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Textile Jewellery

Some friends and I have been having a discussion about making and swapping Artist Trading Pins. I like the idea of having some textile"jewellery" for the lapel of the jackets I'll be wearing to work this winter. It will be as if I can take something of my obsession with me to work.
I promised that I would put some photos on the blog, so that they could see the textile jewellery I have made in the last couple of years...

This brooch measures 6.5cm x 2cm. The background is a gold paper. The coloured section is a tiny bit of dyed silk tops, which was trapped under organza. I then stitched with a gold thread, and added some beads.

This next one has been made into a pendant. It measures 5cm x 5cm. It was made in a goldwork embroidery workshop with Doris Gordon from NSW Embroiderers' Guild. We played with our initials to make designs, so this is based on an "R". It uses various metal threads and beads. The tiny greeen and purple bits are french knots done with metallic threads. The scary thing about this close-up is that I can see all the usually invisible couching stitches...and they look very uneven!
I don't wear this much...ever since I decided it looks like a dog sitting down with its nose in the air. Don't you just hate it when that happens? And, yes, I've tried turning it on its side, or upside down, and the design just doesn't work that way. Sigh.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

A flower?

Just playing again. The framing always helps...and I quite like things that are almost escaping from the frame.

Lime Muffins Recipe

Lisa wanted the recipe for the lime muffins, so here it is. I can't claim credit for the recipes, only for thinking of combining the two.

The first is a microwaved lemon butter, or curd, that I have been making for years in my 650 watt microwave (but for this I use limes). It's from the Margaret Fulton "Microwave Cooking" book. If you're using a more modern, more powerful microwave, just be careful that you don't overcook it!

Lemon Butter

125g butter
1 cup sugar
¾ cup lemon juice (I used lime juice)
Grated rind of 3 large lemons (or limes)
4 eggs

Place the butter, sugar, juice and rind in a large bowl. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
Beat the eggs into the mixture. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring every 30 seconds.
Allow to cool before spooning into clean, dry jars. Seal.

This muffin recipe also uses lemons in the original recipe. Again, I just substituted limes.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
(from Muffin Magic – Diana Linfoot)

Wet Mix
½ cup margarine (I use butter or oil)
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk or yogurt
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind ( or lime)
½ cup lemon juice ( or lime)
¼ cup poppy seeds

Dry Mix
2 cups self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 200C and grease the muffin tins. Blend the butter and sugar and beat in the eggs, milk, lemon and poppy seeds. Fold the dry mix into the wet mix, spoon into the muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes. Makes 12.

To make Lime Poppyseed Muffins with Lime Butter -
Let muffins cool a little, then make a couple of slices into the top of the muffin, joining the slices at an angle (Make a “V”). Remove the slice and fill with lime butter. Replace the slice on top.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

An answer for Sheila

Sheila had a look at the coffee cuffs I made in January, and asked what they're used for.
Well, my favourite coffee shop makes great take-away coffees, but the cups they use are far too thin and I burn my fingers while carrying it back to the office. The coffee cuff adds that extra insulation. So, they're practical as well as pretty. Here's how it looks on the cup -


A trip to Western Plains Zoo yesterday provided some much needed inspiration although, in most cases, it wasn't the animals that provided it. It was the trees and plants. The eucalyptus bark in particular. As eucalypts are evergreens, many of them shed their bark in autumn, rather than shedding their leaves. This can give some great textures and colours. Here are a couple -

No, the next one isn't tree bark. It's giraffe skin! Western Plains Zoo is a large open range zoo which features endangered plains animals from all around the world, and some of them come quite close to the edges of their compounds, resulting in some "up close and personal" encounters. Not quite this close, I must admit, but the zoom lens on the camera came in handy...

Monday, 26 March 2007

Sunday Treats

It must be autumn - the weather has finally cooled down, and the persimmons have appeared. The hardest part is waiting for the persimmons to be ripe enough to eat. But when they are and I cut them open, they're almost too pretty to eat.

Limes are in season, too, and they grow locally. At 3 for $1.00, I overindulged myself at the Farmers' Market, and bought far too many to use up in gin and tonics! So...

I used up some of the wonderful farm eggs, as well! Lime Poppyseed Muffins with Lime Butter were a lovely treat on a cool Sunday afternoon. No wonder I didn't get near the studio...

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Silk Paper Inspiration

A piece of silk paper that had been moulded into shape while it was still wet was the inspiration for this. The colours remind me of the sea, and coolness.

I must need another trip to the coast. We're 400km inland, and the temperature is still hitting the mid 30s C everyday, although the nights and mornings are starting to cool down a little - a promise that autumn is on its way. We seem to look forward to autumn as much as those in the Northern Hemisphere look forward to spring. It's the relief from extremes of weather, I think...and I've had enough of summer and heat.

Bookmarking again

I run a school-based mentoring program which trains and employs community volunteers as mentors. These wonderful people donate so much time and energy to the program that I can never thank them enough. Like all community programs, it also runs "on the smell of an oily rag" - never enough money to go around.

So, as a gift for my volunteers, I decided to make some bookmarks. All it takes is some watercolour paper, some paint, the use of some wooden stamps that I have, some cords, and some of my time. I can afford that! These were done with a leaf shaped wooden stamp, and the cord is one I made with some wool, a zigzag stitch on the machine and some gold thread.

The ones below are similar to the blue ones I made a few weeks ago, but this time I used a pink painted background, then orange paint on the stamp to start, waited until it dried and slightly offset the stamp the second time, using purple paint. I think they look a little Indian...

Let's hope my volunteer mentors like them!