Monday, 30 June 2008

Inspired by VanGogh

A black and white photocopy of a VanGogh sunflower was the starting point for this. The photocopy was handed to me as a challenge, and I really enjoyed making it. The sequins were handstitched, the rest is machine stitched, and the petals were cut freeform, with one eye on the photocopy and the other on the scissors. I hate drawing with a pencil or pen, but scissors seem to work OK.
If, like me you can't draw to save your life, it's worth trying!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Back from Out Back

Work commitments took me to Broken Hill this week and I loved being there. The country is so different, it's like being on another planet. Broken Hill is about 800km west of where I live, and close to the border of South Australia. It's a mining town rich in minerals, particularly lead and silver. It's desert country, with an average yearly rainfall of around 250mm and it's beautiful. The colours of the earth and sky are just amazing, and my photos certainly don't do it justice.

I used to think that in paintings by Pro Hart, the colours looked unreal and artificial. Then, about 20 years ago I visited his hometown of Broken Hill, and immediately saw the colours and intensity of colour that he saw.

This trip, I visited the Living Desert Reserve and climbed to the top of the hill to see the Sculpture Symposium. Sculpted from sandstone by a group of sculptors from around the world, they stand on a hill about 8km north of the town. My travelling companion wasn't up to the steep climb to the top. So there I was on my own, except for the emus, kangaroos and magpies, in complete silence and surrounded by desert. I didn't want to ever come down again. Now I know why some hermits choose mountain tops to escape from the world.

And I just had to show you this...going in and asking to join was considered, especially when the work commitments became a little overwhelming...

Just in case you can't read the sign, it's the Broken Hill Housewives Association.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Converting Waste to Art

As part of the renovations we're doing around the house, our builder has altered the archway from the loungeroom into the hall. I don't know anything that makes a dust which is as invasive as the Gyprock which lines our walls. It results in a fine white dust that settles everywhere. So, in an attempt to reduce the effects, I moved all the ornaments and artwork from the loungeroom. Doing that made me look more closely at a number of things that I had begun to take for granted. One of them is this piece of textile art that I made in 2004. A friend persuaded me to enter it in the inaugural Waste to Art competition in our town. This competition is aimed at encouraging the use of recycled materials in artwork.
My piece contains Tyvek from old legal envelopes, which I painted in pale pinks and golds, and machine embroidered with gold thread. I then heated it to distort it. The background is a piece of polyester lining fabric from a remnant bin, painted with gold textile paints. It's hand and machine embroidered with blue and gold threads. The Tyvek seemed to me to resemble wings, and so I named it Fallen Angel. I framed it in a recycled frame. It won the Open 2-dimensional section of the competition.
I still quite like it, so decided to share...

And here's a closer look...

Monday, 9 June 2008

Memories of Judy

Quite a few years ago, at a Carol Wilkes workshop, I picked up one of the "petals" I was making and pinned it to my top as a brooch. My friend Judy, immediately took one of hers and did the same thing. It led to a bit of a competition, with each of us making textile brooches. Judy made more and always seemed to me to make much better ones. She went on making lots, and seemed to have a new one every time I saw her. Which was often. She was a good friend.

On Friday morning I got the news that she had died, six weeks after a heart operation that went very wrong.

On Friday afternoon, I was moping around the house, not able to settle to anything, when I found the original "brooch". I played with it some more, added some stitching, trimmed some threads, and now quite like it.

So, here it is. I'll wear it to her funeral this week, still wondering who I'm going to "play with" now she's gone. No-one else I know plays with fabric and thread in quite the way she did. I've lost a kindred spirit, and I'm very sad.

Monday, 2 June 2008

My "sandpit"

If you like to play with colour and stitch, this is a fun way to do it. Pieces of fabric, roughly square or rectangular in shape are laid down over a very fine cotton backing (you're going to embroider through a few layers, so it needs to be thin!). Over that, I have laid a few pieces of chiffon, etc - anything that I can see through to the fabric underneath, but which changes the colour slightly. Use a running stitch in a few places to hold everything down, then start embroidering. Experiment with the stitches, and the colours. Play!

I did a workshop with Effie Mitrofanis a few years ago and she has a quilt made from pieces like this that she calls her "sandpit" (sandbox to those of you who don't understand the Australian term) - because she can go and play in it whenever she wants. This is the start of mine.