This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A pose of herons

(the best collective noun for herons that I could find - better than a siege, a hedge or a colony)

Continuing with the heron theme from my last blog post, I wanted to show you the rust and tea-dyed heron that I've been working with more since he last featured on my blog.

For some reason I struggled with it for quite a while.  I think the problem was that I didn't have a clear idea of the feeling I wanted to convey.

I had begun thinking that I wanted to work toward using this quilt as an entry into the Taiwan International Exhibition 2016, where the theme is 'protect the earth's environment'.  My statement was going to be about how the white faced heron used the man-made environment of wharf lights to prolong his fishing.  But it didn't sit right and work well, so I went back to trying to convey that feeling of peace, of dark and quiet and when you can't tell where the water ends and the night-sky begins.

Here is how it has evolved so far:

Have I succeeded?  Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Egretta novaehollandiae (white faced heron)

At night time, there is a white faced heron (or maybe more than one) who hangs out on the teeny beach that is squeezed between the Opua General Store and the wharf.  He or she (they aren't easy to tell apart) fishes in the light cast from the street lamps that line the wharf.

I spot him sitting on the poles that were historically used to careen boats, or stalking silently and measured through the shallows, or hear him croak as he flaps slowly off when we have surprised him as we walk the dog.

And so, herons are influencing my work more than a little lately.  They are making their graceful, watchful way onto my design wall.

This smaller work is 12" x 24" and is titled 'With Little Noise'.  It's named so because the time of night I usually see my fishing friend is that quiet time when the car ferry has stopped, the streets are dark and everybody else is in the warm and light inside.

I've tried to convey that dark, restful aesthetic with this piece.  The simplicity of it reminds me a little of Japanese work.

The grey ombre fabric, the stems and the binding are my hand-dyed fabric, the rest are commercial batiks and a commercial solid.

And as always, I'd love to hear your feedback and what the quilt makes you think and feel.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Opua Arts Studio and Gallery Update

Well, we are open for business!  One week ago exactly, I was pouring glasses of wine, smiling fit to burst and welcoming everyone to Opua Arts.  It was a great little opening; we had a brazier going outside, live music provided by one of the artists, wine, nibbles and lots of enthusiasm.  I couldn't have asked for more.

This is the view from upstairs.  Here I'm hoping to have classes, sit and stitch evenings and other community art gatherings.  When it's sunny it's divine, but even when it's inclement there is always something happening on the wharf to watch.  Can you see my boat on the right hand side of the picture?

I couldn't help admire the sun and shadows falling across this grouping above.  The artwork is graphite on gesso, a chiaroscuro work by Chris Wilkie.  The pottery is by Peter Yeates.

I have some very talented artists exhibiting and hopefully I'll have more soon.  I want some more of the smaller items, some artisan type work as well as the fine art. 

More pottery by Peter Yeates.  I quite like his rustic style - you can see the marks of the creator in it.

This is the only photo I got on opening night!  I just got far too busy talking and introducing and pouring drinks and talking some more!

But now that I'm open, things have settled down a bit more.  I've been over every day, even if it's just for a couple of hours.  I've met lots of people, all very enthusiastic for me.  I have several artists lined up to show me their work and several more who I have portfolios from to organise future exhibitions.  But I want more!  So artists and artisans - get in touch!

And here is one of the absolute best bits about the whole space - my new design wall.  After opening night, I rearranged the space a little to set up my sewing machine, my cutting and pressing table and my batting-covered, polystyrene design wall.  Bliss!  I think I've been more productive in the past week than I have in the last month just from being in a space that is set up purely for creativity.

There is still lots to do.  More signage, more advertising, more paperwork.  But I'm getting there.  And just so, so happy to be be on the journey.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Podcast - Interview with Sharon Keightley of Pine Valley Quilts

Sharon Keightley, of Pine Valley Quilts, is a blogger, quilter and pattern designer.  Sharon adores reproduction and vintage fabrics and she creates beautiful quilt designs that usually incorporate both piecing and appliqué.

Sharon has previously taught classes on her appliqué techniques and she generously shares her knowledge of all things quilty on her blog.  Even though our styles differ greatly, I think Sharon's quilts are just beautiful and I always enjoy reading her process posts.

You can find Sharon on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and her website is comprehensive with a shop offering PDF patterns for download plus Sharon's informative blog.

From July Sharon is also offering something new and exciting for her.  My Home Town Quilt will be running as a free block of the month for six months.  Here's the quilt, an exclusive design by Sharon, so head over to her website to download the first set of instructions.

Sharon and I talked about the business of pattern writing and selling and how she found her niche.  We discussed her evolution into designing and how her creative process works, along with lots of information on the 'how-tos' as well.

I had a great time talking to Sharon and I think you'll enjoy our talk too.  So have a listen and go visit Sharon over at Pine Valley.  You won't be disappointed!

Download this episode (right click and save)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And, just like that, I'm a Art Gallery owner..

Yes, you read that correctly.


This has never, ever been in my plans, but it is now, and I'm super excited and really working hard to make it work.

Here's a little background:  My husband and I have been casually looking for a studio space 'off-boat' for me.  I say casually, because this year was meant to be all about consolidation.  We didn't want to spend any money and I was pretty happy making do with a corner of the saloon.

But I take up a fair amount of room, so we have had our eye on a beautiful office just across from us on the Opua Wharf.  Problem is, it is a commercial space and the rent would be well unaffordable just for a studio.

The fence in front of the building surrounds a hole in the wharf looking straight down to the water.
About a week ago, my husband (bless his cotton socks), came up with a plan.  Why don't I have a working studio, open to the public, with half the space as a gallery selling local artist's work?  I can sell my work, my hand-dyed fabrics and possibly other small items like bags and table runners.  I can sell other artist's work on commission, and there is room upstairs for myself and other artists to run classes and community arts groups.  We envisage it becoming a thriving arts hub, supporting the local arts community and the community in general, and all the while providing me with a space to work and produce my own art.

My proposal to the landlord (a council owned company heavily invested in the community) was accepted.  Just like that I have the keys and I'm planning an opening night in two weeks.

Holy crap!

So I'm excited, yes, but I'm also just a teeny massive bit scared.  All of the sudden there are a million things to do.  I need to set up an accounting system, I need to make display plinths, I need to contact all the artists I know (and don't know), I need to make an inventory, I need to write gallery contracts, press releases and opening night invites.

So 'scuse me if you don't see too much of me in the next couple of weeks.  I'm busy learning how to run an art gallery.

PS - If you are a Northland based artist reading this, please email me (you'll find my email address under my profile) with your portfolio and we can talk!