Sunday, 24 February 2008


I've finally started being creative again! It's been a very long summer break this year. I've been busy making a cover for an A6 journal, an ATASDA NSW Branch challenge.

I began with a piece of textured and slightly stripey gold furnishing fabric, which was serendiptiously donated to the group on the day of the challenge. Originally, I was going to make my cover with simple fold-back pockets to hold the book covers but that looked pretty boring. I quickly decided my journal should have a decorative front flap, like the one that Kirry . was demonstrating at ATASDA this month, to get us excited about the challenge.

First, I pulled out some silk paper that I made with Erica ages ago, and I loved the way the raggy edges looked on the gold background. So instantly I imagined my flap with raggy edges, vaguely leaf-shaped. But it looked a bit funny folded over the plain gold front, so I added a bit more of the silk paper to the section that will become the front cover. Now the flap and the front cover look like they belong together. They will need something to distinguish them apart, though. I ratted through my collection of butterflies, the ones that flutter around my design wall. I had a big kick on fabric butterflies several years ago, and ever since then, these butterflies have perched in odd places, as brooches, sitting on bags... wherever they want to go. One of the pink butterflies flew onto my journal.

The front cover looked a bit odd when the flap was open, with just the silk paper. I wanted some open space and I didn't want to add much bulk under the flap, but I remembered buying some gorgeous organza ribbon with dragonflies on it. I stitched the ribbon in place before I laid down the silk paper, as a little surprise hidden under the flap when it's closed, but a bit more interesting once the flap is open.

The silk paper isn't robust enough to cope with the rough handling the flap will get, so it needed the support of the background fabric. I also wanted the inside of the flap to look good, as this will be visible when the flap is open. I found a gorgeous red fabric in my miscellaneous fabric stash, something that was also a free giveaway, leftover from someone's dressmaking.

I wanted a slide-in pocket for the back cover, so I extended this heavy dressmaking fabric for the pocket. I added fusible webbing just to the end that will be stitched. I figured that the back pocket should be quite strong, as I'll probably end up tucking Important Bits of Paper inside it, so I reinforced the inner edge with twill tape.

I didn't want to extend the silk paper much past the flap, so I knew I needed something to go over the edge of it, to be an end point, but also to mark the front edge of the book and ensure the cover doesn't impinge on the stitched area. I scrabbled around in my ribbon box and found some green paper ribbon, from a birthday present wrapping. I ironed it carefully and cut it into strips. I always Like to use elements in more than one place, so I also used this ribbon to mark and reinforce the spine of the book and I used it as an edge to the back pocket, to help stiffen it.

Now I could do some of the structural stuff. I stitched the back pocket to the back of the cover, right sides together, with a very narrow seam and turned it right side out.

I wasn't happy with the length of the flap from the front pocket, so I decided to add a double band of the lining fabric as an edge. The seam is thicker than I'd really like, but it's a fairly robust edge for the front pocket. I can't sew the front pocket yet, because I need to stitch the silk paper first.

Here's what it looks like so far:

and the inside: The inside is still unfinished, because I want to do the stitching before I put the lining on.

Next, I satin stitched around the edges of the silk paper on the front cover and flap. My satin stitching is not very good, but I keep persisting, since I don't imagine it will get better by wishing. I used two threads, pink and green embroidery threads, in the top and just the pink in the bobbin. First I did a narrow satin stitch around the edges, then I carefully trimmed the whiskers and went around again, with a slightly wider and longer stitch. This gives a nice fat, firm edge and covers up my inevitable disasters in the first pass.

Then I dropped the feed dogs and, using my free motion foot, free-motion zigzagged shapes like leaves, following the fibre lines in the paper. Then, using a darker shade of pink alone, I free-motion straight-stitched some round shapes like fruit or flowers, in the areas of the paper that were pink. In the remaining sections, I free-motion stitched divisions, vaguely like leaf veins. This was just to give the paper some definition and help it withstand handling.

Now the piece looks like this:

I'm so happy with how it looks! Tomorrow, I will do some beading and work out the fastening, which will be hidden by the butterfly. My butterfly doesn't have any antennae at present, so I will need to do a bit of wire work to make those too.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


In 1912, this country passed a Federal law allowing Aboriginal children to be taken from their families against their parents' consent and raised outside their culture. The government of the day believed that the Aboriginal culture was doomed, in the face of their inability to adapt to white culture and technology, and the best way to ensure a white Australia was to raise aboriginal children, especially those of part-white parentage, outside that culture. Two full generations of Aboriginal children were taken away in this way. The fairer-skinned children were adopted by white families and raised white; the darker skinned children were largely raised in orphanages and treated as servants.
The only reason for doing this was race.
This is a shameful part of the history of this country, which has never been publicly acknowledged by any Federal government.

These words were spoken in Parliament today by Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, on behalf of all Australians, to the "stolen generations":
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

More Fabric Book Pages

Linda chose the lilac as her flower. She used extravaganza as a transfer, printed an image of lilacs and added shades of purple and lilac, green dyed gauze, lace and a flower held on with beads. She added some machine embroidery stitches in variegated thread. I love the colour combinations of this piece, and the way she's combined the elements together in a collage but without losing the fineness and delicacy of the flower.

Jenny in Ohio made a pansy page. She used a pansy fabric as the background, and trapped fabric snippets, lace and sparkly bits under tulle. She also trapped pansy petals under plastic, so it's a real pansy page!

Maz from Sydney, Australia made a tulip page, from calico and vylene, painted fusible webbing, coloured sheers, collaged tulips and free machine embroidery, with Treasure Gold. Aren't the colours delicious? It has a real Australian feel to it.

Terri made this beautiful daisy collage, including a photo of her granddaughter, Aubrey Jewel, just six weeks old. She layered orange jaquard fabric, tulle, polka dot and white tone on tone cottons, and the photo, which she manipulated in Abobe PES4 and printed onto pretreated PhotoFabric. She added words printed on twill tape, including the line from Elton John's "Your Song". The centre of the flower is finely beaded, and she added some cute black and white flower beads, and iridescent beads along the edge of the image. Just beautiful!

Last of all, Marlene from California made a poppy page. She also gave really detailed instructions on her process, which I just love. She collaged various fabrics and transfer images of poppies onto a painted background, and stitched them with variegated threads. She overlaid a gorgeous silk poppy,painted and beaded, and added poppy words. I really love it!

Aren't they lovely? And Dianne sent me this card with the pages:

In case you can't read it, it says, "Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain."

Fabric book pages

Something else from last year trickled in last week and I've been trying to find time to share it. Towards the middle of last year, the Like Minded Artist group organised a swap of fabric book pages on the theme of flowers. Each person chose a flower, and made a series of pages on that flower, 6in square with an additional inch at the left for binding. They were sent to Dianne in Canada and she swapped them and sent them back in September.

Alas, the Canadian postal system seemed to be unable to find Australia on its map! The pages came (I'm guessing) on a very slow donkey via Anatolia, Angola and Austria before they finally arrived at my door, four months later. But they were worth the wait.

This is my page, which I made for everyone else. It's a Marguerite Daisy, a flower of which I'm very fond. It thrives in my garden with little attention, always looks green and lush and flowers robustly so that my grandson always has flowers to pick for Grandma. It's not a flashy plant, but it brightens up my life.

Candace's page. Her flower was Tragopogon dubius, Yellow Goatsbeard. She says,"The green bracts were applied with fusible web and the petals were stamped with Lumiere in gold. The centre of the flower is a yarn wrapped pipe cleaner and the stem was done with a glue gun (on parchment paper) painted with Lumiere in metallic olive green and sealed with a matte finish spray. Thread used for the grasses are by Rainbow Gallery." Wow.

Carole's Foxglove page. Carole fused scraps of purple fabric under tulle, embroidered by hand and machine over the top, and I think she may have painted too? She's really captured the fierce uprightness of foxgloves, hasn't she?

Theresa's flower. Theresa sent me a complete mini workshop on how she made her flower, tucked into a pocket in the back. The background has tissue lame fused over the rayon background, with multicoloured ribbon stitched over it. More ribbon was gathered and stitched in place, along with the velvet leaves. The flower petals were fused to organza, hand stitched in place and beaded. Isn't it amazing?

Diana's flower was the tulip. She applied pale organza to the background, and tulip appliques, free-motion stitched in variegated thread. She added a label and ribbon, attached with a pink brad. I love the delicacy of this one.

Carol in Scotland chose a Scottish flower, Fritilaria Imperialis. Her flower was based on an image manipulated in Paint Shop Pro, printed onto fabric prepared with BubbleJet Set and intensively machine stitched. I so love this page! I'm not sure if you can see in the photo but the background stitching follows the lines of the manipulated image, suggesting a whole rich background of foliage.

Dianne's flower was, I think, a variety of lilium. She used some of her rusted fabric as the background and painted the image with water colour pencils, gel pens, copper and metallic paints. Isn't it great? She added some vintage tatting as a border. Dianne said she felt bad that she hadn't stitched much, but I don't think she has anything at all to feel bad about!

I'm not sure what Margot's flower is (sorry, Margot! My flower recognition is deserting me!)but I think it's an iris of some kind. The background is a luscious shiny embroidered silk, and the flower image is surrounded by pleated silk ribbon, held in place by beads and pearls. It's so deliciously rich.
More to come...