Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas wishes

Christmas is almost here ... only two days to go  ... how exciting!
Tonight hubby and I went driving around the canals in Mandurah to view the Christmas lights on the houses.  Each year the canal homes put on a spectacular light display and the public can take boat cruises to view them in style.
The council are obviously on a budget as they've not bothered to put up any lights at all in the centre of town.  Maybe there were no funds left after the office Christmas party! Someone wrote to the local paper and commented that "Grinch stole Christmas in Mandurah" ... must say, I have to agree.   Very disappointing.

For those who have put the effort in and decorated their homes, a big THANK YOU to you all.  Much appreciated.

Apologies for the blurry photos ... no matter what setting I put the camera on, I couldn't get good, clear shots, but I think you can all get the idea.

And of course, at home, there's a very excited little girl who can't wait to rip open her presents on Christmas morning.  Not that these are all for her .... yes she's spoilt, but not that much!!!!

And so, I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a happy and safe new year.  May we all be grateful for what we have, and remember to tell those we love just how much they mean to us.

With love x

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Transparent fabrics

The creative juices finally kicked in last week ... how long they'll last is another question.
I'm still working on Module 8 with transparent fabrics. This piece was created using black organza, home dyed vibrant green muslin and crystal organza. I adhered some circles of crystal organza and muslin between the layers of black organza, and then adhered some circles on the top layer of black organza.
From there I machine stitched swirls and circles on, or around. the adhered fabrics, in black thread, and continued the circle design by stitching groups of circles in the negative spaces of the black organza.
I finished it off with some hand stitching in running stitch using green DMC floss, running around the outlines of the circular stitching.
The photos don't show the vibrancy of the colours or fabrics, which is a shame, but it shines and sparkles lovely.
My family thinks its like something out of the sea, but it reminds me of the stars, so I've called it the "Cosmos".

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Machine Lace - Module 8

I've had a really productive past 2 weeks, knocking out loads of samples of machine lace and feel quite chuffed with myself. After hours and hours of practice I'm starting to enjoy free machining and feel like I'm finally getting the hang of it ...

This one (below) was made with squares of spun craft paper, laid on Aquabond and stitched together with metallic threads.

This purple piece is a piece of net fabric, and I've created the negative flowers by using a Shiva stick over a stencil, and then the free machined purple flowers are just pinned in place (at the moment!)

I liked working with the metallic threads and found they seem to hold together a bit better than the finer threads. I made these snowflakes using a silver metallic thread in the top of the machine and a white cotton in the bobbin.

I then had a go at cable stitch, putting a thicker thread in the bobbin and tried to work on a mesh fabric, but it just wouldn't work and kept jamming, so I changed the needle on the machine to a top stitch needle and put the thicker thread through the top of the machine and it worked a treat.

And on top of all this, I even managed to finish a Michael Powell cross stitch design for my sisters birthday, so all in all a very good fortnight .... just got to keep up the momentum now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Subiaco Craft Fair

Sunday was a glorious spring day ... temperature up to 32C and everyone out and about enjoying the weather. We (me, mum and daughter) spent the day at the Subiaco Craft Fair at the UWA, Crawley. From what I can gather, it was the first time they'd had the fair at the Uni, and it was a great venue with loads of big tree's for shade and great areas for sitting and eating. Hope they have it again next year. A special thank you to the lovely lady at Timeless Jewellery for spending so much time and effort in helping us find a suitable necklace for mum's birthday. Despite all the efforts by mum to try and convince me she really didn't want it, I know she's chuffed to bits. Just got to convince hubby that I'll feel the same way if he buys me the funky green & blue necklace and earrings for Christmas - 2nd from the right.

The fair was all about good quality crafts and people's amazing inspiration and creativity.

Got a few nice bits for Christmas presents too, so that's taken a bit of pressure off.

On the way back to the carpark we had a walk along the river at Matilda Bay, with a view of Perth in the background, what you don't see in the photo are all the people enjoying family gatherings, picnics and barbecues. It was lovely to see everyone having a good time, and me ... well, I had a great day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beating Around The Bush 2009

I've just come back from Adelaide, where I attended the Beating Around the Bush international embroidery convention, presented by Country Bumpkin publications (of "Inspirations" magazine fame) and have to say, I had a ball!!!
The last one they held was in 2003, which I also went to, so it's been a long time between drinks and I've been patiently waiting and can tell you all ... it was worth it!
As always I love Adelaide .... its a city but still feels like a country town and has the most gorgeous buildings from its past, and you can't forget the Central Markets ... what a place! That was the first stop when we arrived .... had to get stocked up with fresh fruit, salads, bread and cheeses which kept us going for lunches for the week.

The convention was held at Unley High School, and as always CB pulled it all together brilliantly with buses collecting and returning us to our hotels each day. There were 78 classes to choose from and 30 tutors, some of who came from the other side of the world.
We were lucky enough to have Elizabeth Elvin, former Principal of the Royal School of Needlework, attend and her talk and slide show about the RSN was amazing.
And who could forget the wonderful bonnets, created to honour our convict women, as part of Christina Henri's "Roses from the Heart" project.
We also managed to squeeze in a day trip to the Barossa Valley. Although it was bitterly cold the scenery was well worth it, and the wines weren't bad either!

Lunch was lovely at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop where we had a pate picnic and the most yummy vanilla and elderflower icecream.
Despite wanting to do as many of the classes as possible, I could only pick 3 so decided to make the most of Tanja Berlin's visit from Canada and gain as much knowledge from her experience as possible. Tanja is RSN trained but now resides in Calgary, Canada. Anyone interested in threadpainting, white work, crewel work, blackwork, goldwork and much more should visit her website. I challenge anyone to visit her website and not sit there with mouths open in jaw-dropping amazement at her work.
Below is an example of one of her threadpainting projects .... I bought this kit and will attempt to stitch it at some point in time.
My first class was stitching a double sided bird which wasn't as daunting as it sounds; the second was threadpainting a gorgeous little rabbit; and the last class was learning blackwork and stitching a fuscia. All three are half done, and I'll post pics when I've completed them.

To whet your appetites, here are more works by a few other tutors that attended the convention.
This one is the most beautiful wool blanket with a mouse in a basket called "Rock-A-Bye Mousey", created by Angela Dower. Don't be deceived by the picture, the mouse and basket is about an A4 size on its own and photos just don't do it the justice it deserves.

Angela will be going online in 2010 with a website, but in the meantime you can contact her at Keep a look out for Angela's designs ... they're well worth it!

And then of course, there's one of my favourite tutors. Jenny McWhinney, and her whimsical wool threadpainting designs, such as the elephants below. This was part of a wool blanket that featured a wonderful lions head in the centre, with other African animals and people embroidered around it. I've done quite a few of Jenny's classes in the past and enjoyed every one of them.

As well as all the embroidery, wine tasting, market shopping, interactive forums and lectures, we also had a banquet dinner at the National Wine Centre overlooking the Botanic Gardens. I was fortunate to sit at a table with Tone Henningsen Hoie from Norway, and admire the national costumes Tone and her daughter wore for the evening. There were amazing.

I have to admit I was very teary the day I had to leave ... I'd had the most wonderful 9 days, doing what I love and mixing with like-minded people and making lots of new friendships. Who wouldn't be sad to leave that?!
Now I'm home again and back into textiles .... hand embroidery has been put aside for a while until I catch up on C&G homework, but I'm already saving for the next Beating Around the Bush in 2011 ... hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rusting Fabrics

I've been experimenting lately with rusting fabrics ... this is great fun and you get the most amazing patterns.
I tried to be clever with some of the pieces, as I felt some of them were a bit "in your face" with the stark white/cream background against the orange rust, so I decided to immerse the fabrics in tea to tea-dye the background. The result wasn't what I expected .... instead a grey/brown fabric.

The tannins in the tea worked against the wonderful orange/gold colours of the rust. Although it changed the visual context completely, it left something quite different and unusual in its own right, even if it wasn't was I had hoped for. Isn't that usually the way?!

Not sure what I'll do with these samples yet, but one of the larger pieces pictured below will be used in my wall hanging.

Don't think hubbies got anything rusty left in his shed .... I've ransacked it, dragged out anything rusty, covered it in fabric and sprayed it with vinegar, oh well - he needed a clean up in his shed anyway!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Transparent Fabrics

After a harrowing few months I'm now back into the swing of it and madly trying to catch up on lost time, throwing myself whole-heartedly into Module 8 : Transparent Fabrics, More Machine Techniques and a Working Design for a 3D item.
I spent the day holed up in my studio painting papers with transfer paints and crayola transfer crayons. Managed to make up over 50 papers .... some will come in handy in the future.

I used everything that I could find that could be described as a stencil of some sort, to try and give me as much variety in the patterns, as possible. Some worked better than others, depending on the fabric they were transferred onto.

I found that voile and nets were great, but crystal organza's blurred and didn't take up the transfer very well.

The transfer paints were great for stamping, and gave much brighter colours than what appears on the paper.

Rubbing mats were good fun to use with the Crayola transfer crayons, and the designs could be cut up and re-arranged.

I even tried the scrapbooking wooden motifs as stamps and stencils, they worked fine!

A productive day .... lets hope tomorrow is as good.