This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, 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!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to finish the edges of mini textile art

I've been making some teeny little wall hangings.  And by teeny, I mean a few inches across.

Finishing the edges of these little artworks is always a bit tricky.  I use a heavy weight vilene in them to stabilise and stiffen them so they don't really lend themselves to a traditional binding, and they are too small for that anyway.

I have used a close zig-zag stitch along the edges but that takes a lot of thread and can gobble the corners if you aren't careful.  And I have messy backs from my embroidery that I'd like to cover too.

Then my talented friend Shirley let me in on how she finishes her bookmarks that she makes.

First, you iron a fusible web like vlisofix, mistyfuse or steam-a-seam onto some coordinating fabric.  Then you trim a piece of that fabric to about a quarter of an inch bigger than your little piece of art.

To form a hanging loop so you can display your artwork, use a piece of embroidery thread and take a large loose stitch through the backing fabric, fastening it with knots on the wrong side.

Tack down the fused fabric on the back of your artwork then trim the corners like in the photo.  Fold the edges of the fused fabric tightly over to the front of the work and fuse them down.  Fuse the back securely.

Stitch along the folded edges to secure.  You can use a contrasting or matching thread, a decorative stitch or plain machine stitch, or you can do what I did and use an embroidery thread in the bobbin (I'm using my hand-dyed silk/cotton blend) and work from the back to make it a feature.

Make sure you remember to sign and label your work, then hang it on the wall to enjoy.  These three are now keeping my hand-dyed threads company in my studio and gallery.

The middle one (Tree Hug #2) is 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and the other two (Tree Hug #1 and #3) are 3 inches by 3 1/2 inches.  They are for sale at $12 NZD each or $30 for the set.  Email me if you are interested!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Last night there was a possum on our boat

Yes, possums are tree-dwelling marsupials who eat vegetation and fruit.  So what was it doing on our boat?  Who knows?  Maybe it wanted to go sailing!

It arrived dry, so I believe it walked down the gangplank.  And it left wet, very wet.  Possums can swim apparently.

There are no action photos to accompany this post.  After all, who wants to see pictures of my husband in his night attire (it's too hot to wear pj's at the moment...) chasing a stinky possum round the back deck with the scoop net he uses for fish?!

He didn't get it in the net but he did scare it overboard.  And here's the funny part.  It swam to our port side jetty, climbed the poles, ran along the jetty to the back deck of the Store.  I thought we were in the clear then because it can get from there back onto dry land.  But no, the stupid thing turned the corner and ran back down our starboard jetty and jumped onto the neighbours boat!

We woke them up (their hatches were open so we thought it was best they didn't meet a possum face to face in bed) and the first thing our neighbour asked - in his very English accent - "Am I dreaming?!"  The next thing he said was, "Where's my camera?"

The possum hightailed it up the sail on the roller furler.  It kept going higher and higher and even unrolling the sail didn't dislodge it.  It made it to the top of the mast (which must be a good 15 metres or 50 feet) and sat there.  Probably changing it's mind about the wisdom of a life at sea.

We all gave up at that point.  Closed all our doors and hatches and went back to bed.  This morning it's gone.  And yes, we checked the anchor chain locker ;-)

Here's a photo of possums my sister took in Australia, where they are a native species and protected.  They may look cute, but in New Zealand, where they were introduced for hunting for fur, they are considered noxious pests which destroy our forests and eat native birds eggs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dye a little every day

I've been using the hashtag #dyealittleeveryday on Instagram for about six months now.  It was my aim to dye little and often to build up my supply of hand dyed fabric without having to do marathon rinsing efforts (my least favourite part of the process).

No, I haven't managed to dye or post a photograph everyday!  But I have built up my supplies like I wanted.  And there have been other benefits to a regular dyeing practice.  I've honed my studio practice at the dyeing bench to produce fabrics without too much fuss and bother.  I also have worked out methods that suit me and processes to get quite different looks depending on what I want.  Basically, I've been increasing my skills.

There are lots of benefits to a regular creative practice.  I keep meaning to start a regular sketchbook practice but haven't quite got there yet.  I've seen people start daily photo practices or challenges, weekly mini-quilt challenges, printing, scrapbooking, painting, you name it - people will have done it.

Cynthia Morris, over on Original Impulse, wrote a nice blog post on regular creative practices.  She talks about how doing it can develop your skill, help you recognise your style, and learn to get pleasure out of the process.  It's worth heading over to read.

Do you have a regular creative practice?  I'd love to hear about it and how it works for you.  Or have you started one that fell by the wayside?  What do you think went wrong?

Happy creating everyone.

Friday, January 15, 2016

SAQA International Artist Webinar

Well hello there blog readers!  Nice to connect again.  It's been a while (a month to be precise) in which the Christmas Crazy has been and gone, camping has also been and gone - a little shorter than usual due to weather issues - and school summer holidays are still in progress.

Coming back to the blog after a break is hard.  What do I write about?  The stuff I did a month ago or the stuff I'm doing today?  It's almost a bit paralysing.  So I've decided to just start (now there's a piece of advice for all things difficult - just start!) and write about what I did today.

Today I was a panelist for the SAQA International Artist Webinar - Oceania Region.  Ok, so today was a little out of the ordinary, I don't do something so exciting every day!

(SAQA is short for Studio Art Quilt Associates.)

It was a pretty cool experience.  When Deborah Boschert, the webinar coordinator first contacted me to invite me to be a panelist, I was thrilled, but also a little taken aback.  I describe myself as an emerging artist and when I learned the my fellow panelists were to be Brenda Gael Smith and Jenny Bowker, both very established and well known textile artists, I was sure Deborah had made a mistake.  But she reassured me that she wanted artists across the spectrum and people with different styles and experiences, so I said yes and I'm so glad I did.

I put together my presentation in good old Power Point.  It works really well for presenting a slide show of photographs.  We were asked to talk about what influenced us as artists, especially in regard to our location.  It wasn't hard for me to show my influences; my work is pretty figurative and very much related to the natural world and what I see around me.

It was pretty informative for me to look back at my work and try and work out what was influencing me when I made it.  It's helped me get a clearer idea of my personal style and my artist voice too.

I also talked about moving to live aboard MV Cerego and how I ended up with my studio and art gallery.  I could have kept talking for another half hour (I've never been accused of having nothing to say) but our time was limited of course!

Apart from a few nerves as we were beginning, the only real stress for me was finding an internet connection with a good enough speed to make the whole thing work.  We had a practice session the week before and my internet here on the boat wasn't quite up to scratch.  I uplifted my computer and plugged in at my mother in law's up the road and luckily it worked without a hitch (and I bribed the kids with a special movie and threatened them with beheading to keep them quiet - it worked like a dream...)

SAQA members can listen to any of the webinars anytime by logging into the SAQA members resources page, and clicking the mentorship webinar recordings under the professional development heading.  

If you're not a SAQA member, perhaps it's time you were.  This is an example of one of the resources they offer to their members.  Aside from the International Artist Panels, they have webinars on writing proposals for grants, selling your artwork, organisation and productivity and finding your voice as an artist.  I'm working my way through the older ones and learning heaps as I go!  

So happy new year everyone and I look forward to journeying through 2016 with you.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Day Sailing on the Bay

The R Tucker Thompson is a tall ship that works out of Opua, where I live.  During the summer season they take paying guests for day and evening sails and they use this money to help subsidise youth training trips the rest of the year.

I was lucky enough to have a voucher for a Day Sail for two adults and two children so last weekend my Mother in Law, myself and the two kids made sail!

What a fantastic day!  The crew gets the guests really involved in the sailing of the ship.  The kids hauled ropes, climbed rigging and sat out on the bowsprit like pros.  To give you a bit of perspective, the top of the mast is 20 metres from the waterline.

The morning was spent sailing out through the Bay of Islands.  They gave us yummy cream scones for morning tea and then we anchored in a little bay and spent some time on a beautiful beach.  

I've taken the photo above from the dinghy, the person halfway up the rigging is my 8 year old daughter and my son is up on the yardarm - but you can't really see him.  I had the other guests commenting how brave they were but the kids just thought it was fun!

The Bay of Islands at it's best.  The beaches out in the bay are just gorgeous.

The Tucker is a traditional gaff-rigged schooner.  She's so pretty when you see her sailing around and sitting at anchor.

There was swimming and swinging to be done before a wonderful barbeque lunch.  The fresh air gives you a great appetite.  And they have drinks available for purchase, so you can have a glass of wine if you wish.

I was intrigued by the 'boat bits' as I called them.  Lots of weathered wood and copper and complicated knots, pulleys and bits and pieces.

My son is particularly keen to get back on board and go for one of the youth training week-long trips.  He has to be at least two years older, and he can't wait!  After he's done a trip like that, he can be a volunteer crew.  Because the Tucker is run by a trust, they use volunteers when they can.  One of our crew this trip was a 15 year old that the kids knew from their school.  And he was confident and competent - great to see.

Oh yeah, did I mention we saw dolphins too?!  So lucky!  We had a good breeze that was great for sailing, we had nice weather which made it pleasant and everyone had a fabulous time.  What a perfect day.

So, if you are ever up this way, check out the R Tucker Thompson and book yourself a day sail.  I would thoroughly recommend it