Monday, October 31, 2016

The Things that Came Home With Me

I flew in to Comox last night, after spending a month in New Zealand. I don't know about you, but part of the fun for me of travelling for me is hunting for treasures, both inside the shops and outside. Often I can't tell you in advance what the treasures will be. It's not as though I go with the idea of looking for a specific something - rather, I am waiting to be surprised. So I thought I'd write about some of the things that came home with me after this trip. Last time I blogged I wrote about woven Maori kete bags I saw in Te Papa Museum. Soon after that I was on the lookout for a modern day version, and later in the week I found these. Of course I had to bring a few home with me.
Having already stitched through the wool blankets I had found in "op shops" (the New Zealand version of thrift shops) last year, and loving the feel of the needle gliding through the wool, I was on the lookout for more blankets, after all NZ is famous for its sheep and their wool, and these are the three that accompanied me home this year. The bottom one will be used just as it is, but the first two are rather worn, and are destined to be filler in my next hand-stitched works.
My shell collection grows a little each time I walk the beaches of New Zealand, and I found a few more on this visit. The challenge now is going to be how to use these in my work. I am intrigued by multi-media art, especially when found objects are incorporated into them, and must find out how to drill through them without breaking them. I can't help thinking that they'd be a great contrast to use with indigo fabrics. Stay tuned . . .
And already waiting for me in New Zealand was the largest of these three suitcases, all of them bought in a country that hasn't disposed of these older, heavier versions of our modern suitcases. (At least I haven't had much success in finding any in Canada so far, but please let me know if you have a source for them.) I imagine them filled with collections of something or other, or of stories or a combination of both - I'm really not sure right now - but there's something about these worn and well-travelled yet obsolete valises that pleases me enormously. For now they will sit in a corner of the studio for me to enjoy just as they are.
These fabrics did NOT come home with me, but were brought home to me by my husband David, who was in Uganda working on a Widows Garden Project at the same time that I was in New Zealand. They're terrific "real wax" fabrics for me to add to my collection, and I'm just thrilled. All in all I'm very happy to be back home again, as well as with my treasures, and am hoping that the coming days will see me being more disciplined about putting in time in the studio. Jane Dunnewold is a strong advocate of this, even if it's only 10 minutes, but stresses in her writing how important it is to do something each and every day, and there's wisdom in this, I'm sure. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

New Zealand Textile Arts at Te Papa

Wellington's Te Papa Museum is one of my favourite spots in this city. Last week was my third visit there, and I see new things each time I go. A collection of "kete" woven baskets caught my eye this time, as well as a display of woven and threaded skirts and capes. The threadwork on some of the capes looks almost contemporary. Which makes me wonder how much is really new under the sun. I could also see a similarity between these baskets or bags and those I have seen in a number of African countries - all made use of the materials at hand to make necessary items, but also have adde, touches to make them beautiful and not just functional. Not so very different from quilting.

This gorgeous stained-glass window is also in Te Papa, and echoes the lines of the "Marae", or meeting hut, which is located just behind it. 
I love the lines of this woven mat, with the progression of colouring through the length of it.
But my favourite part of this visit, of course, was spending time with Emily and Michael and Griffin. This pic was taken at a maritime education centre, which had pools of se life and allowed for handling of snails and sea urchins and the like. Just the thing when you're 10 months old!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cyanotype Images, or Working with Leaves in a New Way

Last summer on a warm, sunny day, with almost no breeze, I played with Cyanotype for the first time. Fabric that has already been prepared can be purchased, and images achieved by exposing them to the light for 15-20 minutes, and then rinsing them in water. The trick is to keep whatever you have placed on top of the fabric perfectly still during that time - no easy task, as I discovered! And whenever the leaves moved, it created a shadow on the fabric.
For my first few pieces, I worked with pressed eucalyptus leaves, maple leaves and willow leaves, and a few other things that were not so successful. Having committed to making a piece for the next Fibre Art Network Exhibit, entitled "Botanical Reflections", it took very little time to decide to work with the eucalyptus leaves for my entry.
I decided to highlight the leaves with a contrasting colour, and chose red. Before I began stitching, I sandwiched the cyanotype print with a layer of thin, wool blanket, and pinned it in place. I don't use an embroidery hoop when I stitch, and the layer of wool gives the piece the stability it needs so it doesn't become distorted.

I began byIoutline-stitching the leaves with #8 perle cotton, and then added the long lines with two strands of embroidery floss. Now I have two of these completed, along with three of the African fabric squares below, in which I had highlighted bits of each with the same red perle cotton that I used in the leaf stitching.
And now comes the fun part - figuring out how to put it all together. There will be a little more red, and a variety of indigo prints, and I'll use improvisational piecing, and see where it takes me. Stay tuned . . .  

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fabric of Life - A Visit to the Wellington Quilters' Exhibition

Although I hadn't planned it this way, I fortuitously arrived in Wellington (New Zealand) just in time for their quilt exhibition. Held in the Wellington Academy of Fine Arts, a marvellous venue that allowed one to stand back and actually see and appreciate the quilts, it was a week-long affair, and I thought I'd share just a few of my favourite pieces. The first is made by Jenny Hall, and is called "They are Bees not Flies", the meaning of which becomes clear when the red fabrics of the third border are examined closely. It received the "Best Traditional Quilt" award.

Next is "Waste and Renewal II", made by Fyvie Murray, which received the "Excellence in Quilting" award. I loved the colourful circles, almost like bubbles, emerging from the turquoise background in this.

This one is Frances Velvin's gorgeous "Aotearoa II - Kiwis in the Sun". It was given the award for "Excellence in Use of Colour". I especially like the outide border designs - very Kiwi.

And lastly here's my favourite of all, "Street Lights Through the Fog", made by Jill Bowman. I stood in front of this for a very long time, and was pleased to see it was given the "Best Contemporary Quilt" award, although I found a quilt of a sunset made by the same person just as stunning. As well as viewing the quilts, I was able to chat with a few fellow quilters, and altogether was made to feel very welcome and at home at the exhibit. And now that I have my own little sewing area set up in the bedroom I'm calling home for the month of October, all is right in my world. Spending time with my daughter and her family, including almost 10 month old Griffin, is pretty sweet too!