Monday, 25 October 2010

More fabric drawing

I'm really enjoying drawing on fabric, even when I don't actually have a plan for what I've made. I have a large collection of paint rags, some painted or printed deliberately, some the by-product of painting sessions, but most a combination of the two. I trawled my folders today and found this piece:
It's a bit boring, but it's been hanging around since 2006, so I decided to use it for drawing today. Here's how it looks now:
You'd hardly recognise it as the same fabric, would you? I was planning to cut it apart but I actually like it as it is. Back into the fabric folder, I guess!

Another t-shirt

I've been busy making things for the ATASDA Open Studio on 6th & 7th November. Here's another painted t-shirt. This one is inspired by my granddaughter Kate.
The Open Studio will be held at Epping Creative Centre, Dence Park, Epping, in Sydney, Australia. Lots of interesting work from talented textile artists - should be fun!


For one reason and another, Saturday was quite a stressful day for me.
When I got up on Sunday morning, this is what I found on the kitchen bench next to the newspaper:
Isn't that lovely? I guess he really is a keeper.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Wandering around Paris

As I mentioned earlier, I spent a few weeks in France recently. I didn't especially go looking for textile-related things, but they seemed to find me, as they usually do.

One place we always visit in Paris is Hotel des Invalides. It's not so much that we have a passion for Napoleon's tomb, although that is pretty impressive. But the accompanying museum calls us back every time. It's the only museum I've ever visited which has medieval armour shoved casually into piles - here a stack of pikes, there some mail, over here a collection of helmets glaring fiercely at passers-by. And cannons of every description guard the central cloister. They do have more formal exhibition spaces too, of course, but the casualness of quantity grabs me every time. This time, we visited their excellent WWI and WWII exhibitions, which we'd previously missed. They have a chronological pathway you can follow, beginning with late nineteenth century exhibits, or you can amble about in your own order.

I was fascinated by the military uniforms. Many of them were surprisingly stylish for something that was essentially utilitarian. It's always hard to take good photos and most of my shots were for my own interest, but here's a page's uniform from the late 19th century.
All that work, so you had someone to fetch your drinks and take off your boots! The fact that armies had pages is itself an interesting comment on how warfare was waged in those far-off days.

And here is the embroidered traycloth for Marechal Petain's guards. Not, I gather, for the Marshall Himself but for the chaps detailed to look after him. The mind boggles.

We quilters know a lot about commemorative fabrics, but did you know there was fabric made commemorating the end of WWII? Here is a Victory dress, made in France just after peace was declared in Europe. I'm not sure if it was ever worn, and I can't somehow see it as the height of fashion, even in those times, but someone went to the trouble of making it.

Another place we go back to again and again is the Louvre. This museum is just the most brilliant place, and one of my favourite places in all the world. It's vitally important that you have A Plan when you go there, partly because it's huge, and partly because you can get sidetracked so easily from the things you wanted to see. Our plan this time was to have a third try at the Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan antiquities, which have been unavailable each time we've visited the Louvre. Just unlucky, I guess. This time we were in luck, and they were on display in the fullness of their glory. All of them. They have a lot. Many happy hours could be spent looking at them, more happy hours than we actually had, to do them justice. But we tried.

See this fabric? Ordinary looking, you think? A simple tabby weave linen, with a twisted fringe. It's from the 20th Dynasty in Egypt, so we're talking about 1100BCE. About three thousand years old. Pretty amazing for a medium that is generally considered ephemeral. I guess most of us who work in textiles are accustomed to the idea that what we make won't last forever and, let's face it, it's probably won't survive for three thousand years. This isn't the only example of Very Old Textiles in the Louvre - they have quite a lot of ancient Egyptian textiles.

Like this dress. It's very simple, but those lines across it are actually pleats, which I guess are what allows the wearer to put it on and to move once they have it on! This dress was discovered at Assyut, in middle Egypt, and dates to the Middle Kingdom.  That's about 2055-1650BCE, so this garment is anything from three and a half to four thousand years old. The middle Egyptian excavation I went on (twenty years ago now!) found a similar dress, which was dated to the end of the Old Kingdom-early First Intermediate Period - so that's about twenty years older than the oldest date for this dress. Styles didn't change much, so Egyptian women were clearly not fashion victims, out in the boondocks of civilisation, anyway.

And then there's the jewellery. No, not the flashy gold stuff - this is more your everyday dress wear. These ones date to the Middle Kingdom - three and half to four thousand years old.
These ones are New Kingdom - three to three and a half thousand years old:

And this beautiful beaded curtain is positively new - it's from the Late Period, so only about two and a half thousand years old.
And all that was just the beginning of the trip. I may share more later...

Going all girly

Last Saturday was Kambra Challenge day. I've mentioned this annual challenge here previously. We've been challenging each other for more than a decade now, and the results are always fascinating and unexpected.

I couldn't make the unveiling this year, which was a shame, because I really wanted to see what the others did with our challenge fabrics! They were eight dyed fat eighths from Lisa Walton at Dyed and Gone to Heaven:
Challenging fabrics, aren't they? They're so very... what's the word I want? Oh yes... pink.The challenge, from Donna, was to use these fabrics, plus a single print fabric. The group reactions were predictable - I don't think we've reacted with enthusiasm to any challenge yet! The problem was to avoid something really cloying.

However, the one group in the world that really loves pink is small girls, and I just happen to have one of those in my family. Granddaughter Kate is rarely seen without some pink about her person, so she seemed the logical person to receive my pink project. I wanted to make her something she would use, but I just didn't love the fabrics enough to make her a quilt. So a small project was needed.

It was quite hard to find a fabric that worked well with the pinks but wasn't too sickly. I didn't find any commercial fabrics I liked, so I decided to paint and print my own. I used Setacolor paints and an Indian woodblock.

And here's my project - one side:
...and the other:

Kinda cute, isn't it? I'm pretty sure she's going to love it.
If you want to see the other Kambra challenge works, they're over here on the Kambra Challenge blog.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Time to play

Back home again, after a fantastic trip to France (of which more later). It's so terribly hard to get out of holiday mode, don't you find? I managed to wring a few more days out of my holiday but this week, my computer is reminding me of things I ought to do, and the usual activities that fill up my days are happening, so I can't really pretend any longer.

One of the things my computer is insistently reminding me about is the ATASDA Open Studio weekend, which will happen on November 7 & 8 at the Epping Creative Centre, Dence Park, Epping, where most of our meetings and workshops in NSW are held. The idea is for ATASDA members to showcase their work, which is not only different from more traditional kinds of textile work, but different from each other's work as well.  Normally, this would just be a reminder to me to show up on the day, but in a fit of madness, Fibrecircle decided to take a table for both days, to show off our work and maybe even sell a few things. So I really need to make a few things, and maybe (gasp) finish a few things, so I can show people the kind of stuff I make.

So today, I drew and painted a kid's t-shirt. As you may have noticed, I'm rather interested in graffiti lately. (I must say I was disappointed in the Paris graffiti I saw - perhaps I just wasn't in the right places?) I've always been interested in layers - palimpsests on old documents, sgraffito work, walls with patterns marking traces of past occupancy - basically, traces of what went before and the interesting things that happen when you superimpose unrelated things. Graffiti is part of that interest, I guess, since graffiti artists seem to have no concern about what's already on a wall before they add their work, and even sometimes seem to incorporate it into their designs.

My graffiti designs are not that complex - they're time-consuming to draw and paint, and are much less layered than I'd really like. I think there's more to do with this idea, if I stay interested.

Anyway, here's the t-shirt.

It's a kid's size 4 and I'll probably be selling it and other stuff like it at the Open Studio weekend.