Tuesday, 31 March 2009


OK, time to unveil one of the things I've been working on. At Fibrecircle in March, Helen brought brown paper envelopes and challenged us to make a collage. The envelopes contained articles from Australian Geographic magazine. I didn't want to make a paper collage (been there, done that) so I chose to collage my photos onto fabric. I chose a painted fabric from my stash that looked like this: It was originally painted as one of two backgrounds for a book page swap in a now-defunct group called Art Divas. I collaged scraps of paper from the magazine photos, plus some from an accompanying map (I love maps!). It all looked a bit tacked together, and the blues were still very strong, so I added colour with fabric crayons and metallic pastels. I connected the roads on the maps with black marker pen lines, like a mud map. I like mud maps (the sort of map you draw in the dirt with a stick to show somewhere the way) and they've appeared in other pieces I've made. I added some images for planes from a single photo. I'd cut the maps with scissors, which was a mistake. I much prefer ragged edges.They still looked too blobby and not connected with the background. So I lifted them off and tore them apart and glued them back roughly in the same place. That looks much more interesting! I added in some strips of orange organza to provide some shadows.
I was starting to feel good about what was happening. But would I bother to finish it, when I have so many other things to think about right now? To make myself finish it, I challenged the other members of Like Minded Artist to join me in this exercise, choosing pages from their own glossy magazines and making a quick collage, due the end of March. Now I had a reason to finish mine!

I felt it was all look a bit much the same - not enough tonal contrast. So I splashed on some of my Setacolor paints:
Amazing how changing tone can change the mood! I also found an image that included a plane's shadow. I added it because I liked the ambiguity. It doesn't look like the shadow of one of the planes in the collage. Is it another plane? Is there another plane somewhere we can't see? The other planes are so bright that the dark tone makes it more ominous, suggesting it may be an enemy.
All along, I'd planned to overlay the collage with organza, which I'd then strip back in some places. This was partly for practical reasons. I had attached the paper elements with a simple glue, because I knew I wanted to stitch through it and I didn't want anything that would clog the needle. But that glue is not known for its permanence, even on paper. An overlay would help to hold everything in place, even if it wasn't actually stitched down. I had some organza I'd painted a while back, just to see how organza took Setacolor paint. It gave the surface a very muted pattern, like a moire. I traced the mud map and map roads onto the organza, overlaid it and stitched it down with a meandering pattern.
Oh wow, shiny! I'd forgotten that organza really hogs the limelight! I started snipping the layers back, sometime adding a few of the snippets underneath areas I didn't cut back. It looked better but still distractingly shiny. I thought about melting the organza but I'd have to work very carefully, so I didn't char the surface underneath, so I rejected that option. Finally, I decided to try a layer of light matte gel medium. I figures this would tend to make the organza opaque, and glue everything down. Here's how it looks now: It's still a bit shiny, where the organza didn't lie down flat, but it's interesting rather than distracting. The gel medium made the marker pen run in a few places, something that actually adds something here but is good to know about for the future! And yes, I do think it's done now.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Just a little teaser

I've been busy lately but sadly, most of what I've done is Sekrit Stuff, so I can't put any of it up here. But I thought I'd give you a teaser, so you can see I have been busy and not swanning around the Caribbean on a cruise ship or lying on a beach in Bali, like some lucky friends of mine.

So what are you looking at? OK, one of these 2in virtual strips represents my Kambra Challenge 2009. Remember, I belong to a group that has been meeting for an annual challenge for, can it be a more than a decade? You can see some of our previous challenges here (and yes, most of my unfinished ones are still unfinished). This year, our challenge was to use a pack of 40, 7in 1895 Bali Watercolors in delicious blues and greys and browns and the unveiling date is fast falling upon us. I don't want another unfinished quilt so I have a cunning plan... Another of these shows my piece for a Like Minded Artist challenge that came originally from a Fibrecircle activity. It's coming along nicely and may even make the Mar 30 deadline, after which time you can see it in all its glory. And another image shows a slice of another Fibrecircle activity, which we were challenged to use to make into ATCs. These are due on Apr 8 and then I'll show them, either here or on the Fibrecircle blog. And not only will Fibrecircle members get an ATC, but a couple of people who have set me ATCs might actually get one back. Progress! Of course, along the way I've painted a whole lot more fabric pieces, which at this stage look remarkably like painted fabric so I won't bother to put them here.

Meanwhile I'm also thinking about my Voyages and Passages piece for ATASDA's Palm House exhibition in 2010. So many possibilities!

I haven't been entirely locked in my workroom. Yesterday, I went on an expedition with my friend Carol, to Petlins for some essential weaving supplies, and via an Aladdin's cave of a fabric shop to NSWeave aka NSW Spinners and Weavers Guild. I managed to find some delicious organza and some acrylic felt (everything I have here now is wool felt that doesn't melt, darnit!), some silk tops and yarn for later dyeing with Fibrecircle, a weaving book I couldn't live without and these cute little stamps.
Aren't they fun? Just called out to me to take them home. A most satisfactory excursion.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


And while we're talking about exciting stuff, I was so excited by the work of Carolyn Cabena, the speaker at the ATASDA NSW Branch meeting yesterday. Carolyn is a life member of ATASDA, having joined way back when it was the Batik Association, and it was fascinating to see slides of her work over many years. She's worked with batik (of course), screen printing, shibori dyeing and resist discharges, devore, pleating - and her work is just fabulous! You can read about her here (she's also involved in Craft Australia) and see a tiny example of her work here . Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have a web page or gallery, apart from what is on display through Craft Australia, so you might need to go to the Gallery, 104 George Street
The Rocks Sydney 2000 to see her work in person. It's really inspired me, although I paint fabric rather than dyeing it, to return to my screen printing beginnings.

Sun printing

Darn, I forgot to mention that the Fibrecircle group finally found some sun for sun printing, fortnight ago. Check out my sun prints here plus the others' immediately afterwards.

I have decided I love sun printing! It has so many possibilities for adding texture and laying. Make sure you look at Prue's pieces, which were done partly under glass, which gives a very interesting effect. And Carol's very tidy samples of different approaches (my samples are never that organised!) give a great idea of what you can achieve right from the start.

Time for an update

Remember that paint rag I talked about here? And a couple of other times - look under Flowerpot. I've done some more painting on it a few times since it last appeared here, and it's fast approaching the time when I'm ready to add some stitch. You may know I'm a bit obsessive about process, and I record the growth of pretty much anything I make (bigger than an ATC!). So it occurred to me to go back and look at how things started. I got a huge surprise, and I think you might too. Here's the very first, from April 2007, and the most recent (last week) photos.

I'm pretty sure photo 1 might have already had some deliberate painting on it by the time I photographed it. I'd already roughed in the pot shape and added the splodgy background for the brick wall. I'm more rigorous now about photographing likely paint rags at the beginning, but this was the very first one that I ever decided to make into a specific work, instead of just being used when I needed a certain colour fabric. From my notes, the original had the coloured splodges, when I'd wiped my brushes, and a pale apricot background, when I'd used it to clean off a palette.
Where now? I think it needs a lot more greenery, so that will probably happen next time I have the paints out. And I need to add some more shadows to some of the flowers, and maybe add a touch of orange-pink to the yellow roses.
(Sorry to those people who liked the pot left undefined. I let it sit for a long time but I just didn't like it. Guess you'll have to paint your own now! See how easy it is?)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Finished something!

Oh I love it when that happens!

Today I finished the bag I started back in the middle of 2007. I thought I had mentioned it here but it seems I was slack about that. It's a little bit like this one here because it was made from fabric I quilted. But it's different, because it's a design I drafted myself, incorporating all the things I have loved in those handbags that are now gone to The Great Handbag Shop in the sky. I love having a flat outside pocket you can slip a shopping list or a bill into. I love having an outside and an inside zipper compartment for those things you really must not lose. I love a bag that takes a sketchbook easily, with room for some drawing pencils or even a pack of watercolour pencils. I love bags with cute little pockets for my wallet and my keys and my phone, so I can always find things. I love bags with double zippers, so I can open them either way.I love bags with long enough straps to carry comfortably over my shoulder and under my arm, to deter people who might want to take my beautiful bag home with them. And now I have one with all these things! And another view: I want a whole family of these bags, in every colour of the rainbow, so I can swap handbags without a fuss, and everything I carry will have a place of its own. Stay tuned!