Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
First up are the two companion pieces for the sneak piece that I showed last month - playing with curves and hand stitching. I'm not so enamoured with this one but this piece feels much more successful. I have used the curved crossing lines in quilts I have made in the past and it was nice to revisit them. They always remind me that we never know what might be around the corner in life - or as they put it in a chick flick movie I watched with my daughter a few nights ago - plan to be surprised in life.
And so the preparations for Christmas have finally begun in our house - the Christmas tree is up, the largest we have ever had.... It is filled with a combination of decorations the children have made over the years that I feel sentimental about, some beautiful handmade decorations that friends and my mother have made for me and others that I have picked up over time because of their special appeal. We have a tradition in the family that the children each get to pick one new decoration to buy from the biggest Christmas shop in town - there has been much laughter about how their tastes have changed over time. Overall we think it's a fine display.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
But the star, in my mind anyway, are my new Stef Francis threads. Feast your eyes on these - nothing like a bit of fibre temptation.And then, for a bit of a giggle, I thought you might enjoy these. I found these with my friend who I stayed with recently in Auckland -they are baking measures with the top and bottom of each doll being a different measuring cup. We loved them so much we bought each other a set and had an early, impromptu Christmas together. Nothing like a little mutual indulgence! Such fun and having given mine a test run with the weekly biscuit baking I can give them the full stamp of approval - both beautiful and useful. A match made in heaven.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
However having confessed my lack of activity had just the effect required and I did spent a couple of hours behind my beloved machine on Friday and will soon have something to show, once the hand stitching is complete. What really launched me into action was getting my hands on quite a number of hanks of Stef Francis mercerised cotton - my all time favourite thread for stitching with. It is hand dyed, variegated thread in a wide variety of rich colours. When I discovered that Jenny Hunter had imported it there was no option other than to have a spend up. Heaven!
While I haven't been stitching I have been thinking about it and about art - just loved this sign I found on my travels lately. An excellent expression of the importance of art to us all.
And then grazing just down the road were these zebras which are made of corrugated iron.
The biggest excitement for me was when I found this Rosalie Gascoigne painting for sale in Auckland. I stood and gazed at it for an unseemly amount of time. You just know that when that have Price on Application on the catalogue that you shouldn't even go there. It was very cheeky of me but I snuck this photo - and then wandered straight down the road to buy the catalogue of her recent retrospective in Melbourne. It is wonderful reading.
The greatest thing about Gascoigne is the hope she offers us all - an internationally renown artist who was untrained and didn't start making art until she was in her 50s. There is hope for us all (maybe)!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I find it a little strange that I intended the quilt to be about one thing and it so appropriately was really meant to be about something else altogether. Such is the nature of life sometimes. On the back of the quilt I have written:
I've been doing a bit of tripping around the North Island over the last couple of weeks, since its been school holidays here. The prize textile find of the holidays was this wonderful tray cloth which has been exquisitely stitched to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Of course I immediately thought it would make a great cushion for my daughter's friend who we recently made the quilt for, given she refers to herself as Queen Elizabeth III.
I really loved the detail in it - you might just be able to make out the Queen in her carriage below.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I must say I have never seen anything quite like it. The house was literally full up with treasures being sold and when I spoke to one of the men selling I heard more of the story - his mother-in-law had died 18 months ago and it has taken them that long to get to the stage they had. There were a number of rooms in the house at the time she died that couldn't even be entered as there was so much put into them - china, ornaments, dolls, records, books, toys, kitchen items, furniture, infact just about anything you can think of. He said that his mother-in-law had for many, many years visited all the local garage sales and without fail bought things that she then squeezed into her house until she could scarcely move around it.
I feel deeply for the family - what a burden to have to devote yourself to working through it all. And inspite of our recent experiences, which were nothing compared to this, I did the only thing I could and took some of the textiles off his hands and into my welcoming arms.
I have a real soft spot for breakfast tray clothes and was delighted to find this one. The woman carrying the coffee pot is so jaunty.
This lovely lady joins others that were already in my collection including this rooster, who is crowing - If you be wise 'tis time to rise. How irresistible!
And this dog who is ready to face the day.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
We all had some good laughs along the way (Why would anyone need to have 26 black skirts in her wardrobe? Is there any good reason to hold onto hats that have not been worn since WWII?) but without exception all of us who have worked on her home have come to look at our own with fresh eyes. There has been much intensive cleaning in my own home and many, many loads of things we no longer needed have been moved onto local charities in the hope that these items will be of use elsewhere.
For my parents they have taken to their lifetime of possessions and collections with unexpected vigour. I have long thought that I would have quite a job on my hands, in due course, but they have taken it as a challenge to deal to as much of it as they can now rather than leaving it for me. I have lost count of the number of times my mother has told me that she is determined not to leave me a mess like we were faced with earlier this year. We will see.
There has been a small downside to their activities - they seem to weekly turn up at my door with another box of "treasures" that they are planning to relocate from their house to mine. It's like a giant merry-go-round of "stuff". Many things I would have been happy to have never seen again. However there have also been some real treasures which I have been delighted to welcome into my life and home. I'm not sure my husband feels quite the same, but this is the real nub of the issue - one man's trash is truly anothers treasure.
One of the jewels I am delighted to be reunited with is the blanket that was knitted for me as a newborn my one of my aunts. It was knitted into squares so in no time at all I've been able to transform it into a new scarf for myself - aforementioned husband rolled his eyes, but my more textile inclined friends have been more impressed and not a little envious. I can still feel the love knitted into every stitch.
Having mentioned in my last post that the crocheted doilies appear to be breeding in my sewing room I can now offer potitive evidence, as this week my mother gave me every piece of crochet that her father had made. As you can see from the photo, he was reasonably prolific.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I made mine out out of old Japanese kimono fabric that I had and some of the many, many crochet doilies that appear to be breeding up in my sewing room. As I recall I'd gone to the sewing room with the intention of starting a new quilt but couldn't settle on what to do. So I decided that something small and easy would be the thing to get me stitching again. And it has worked as I now know what the next quilt will be... should I ever get shot of this cold enough to get cracking on it....
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Meanwhile I've been doing more stitching around those pigeon holes and while I have been doing it they have changed in my mind to stones from the volcanic plateau. Must have been the influence of the few days up at the lake and the photo I posted of the lake shore.
I had the piece with me at my book group a few days ago and one of my friends who is from that part of the country was particularly taken with the quilt.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
However when browsing through the photos I realised I'd never shown this wool and felt work bag I made for myself some time ago after doing a class with Rosemary McLeod. Most of the other bags had a more distinctly 40s look to them, while mine was, well, different. I think someone told me they thought they looked liked prancing body builders....the things people think of!
After that analysis the more subdued back drew less spirited comment - just as well probably! I was reminded of the bag today as I discovered a long neglected project in it....just the thing for some therapy to recover from the colds and coughs that have invaded our house just in time for the school holidays...
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Just breath-taking. It did for me that day everything that great art should - took me out of my head and the worries that I had that day and into a totally different place where I was spell bound by the ideas and visual images in it.
The work is a series of small canvases which Reynolds has written words on from Harry Orsman's New Zealand Dictionary - all words that are a special part of our version of the English language - and then he has formed them into a enormous cloud of words. Our very own land of the long white cloud - a great breeze of our language.
See it here on a blog announcement from Te Papa. It even has a short clip from You Tube of John Reynolds talking about the installation of the work.
Be warned though - this is only a pale introduction to the real thing - it really has to be seen! If you are in Wellington made sure you make a bee line there before it leaves at the end of August.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
First up was the quilt I started at the Mini-symposium in Picton last Easter (I say this as a reminder to myself on the perils of procrastination). All that remained to be done was the binding on the top edge of the quilt, a label and hanging sleeve - not exactly a lot. I'd had it in my mind that I would finish the top edge with binding made of the blue linen - but when I finally tried it, it just didn't work. In fact a more honest quilter would say it looked awful! So after some pondering I finished it without a binding at all - it is turned to the back on the to edge and I really like the look of it. It's now hanging happily on the wall inside out back door and has been admired already - why did I wait so long to finish it? Who knows!
Next up was "Friday Morning Coffee". This has been waiting for me to find just the right pieces of tatting to finish the top off. I took it to our Quilting Guild several months ago and told people I was looking for some tatted pieces and have since been very kindly given a number of beautiful pieces, some of which are now on the top of this quilt. The beautiful piece above was given to me by a dear friend who was given it by a customer at the quilting shop she works at. The customer asked Marilyn if she knew someone who would appreciate it - and lucky, lucky me it rapidly found it's way to my house.
Of course temptation (and ideas) got the better of me and I also started something new - it grew out of an idea I had having pondered the odd combination of those photos of the heat mats from my daughter's science class and the amazing work of Rex Ray. It has a tentative title of "Pigeon Holes" to remind of a previous life of mine as a recruitment consultant. I'm thinking its going to be part of a triptych, as I still have other ideas I want to play with.
Here's a detail of it.... it was so much fun
and so satisfying to not only finish things, but to start something new as well. Here's to many more happy endings and exciting beginnings!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
and only waiting for the label to be written on by my daughter so it can be sewn onto the quilt.
Naturally the birthday girl it has been made for hasn't seen it, but both her parents have and they are certain it's going to be a complete hit. Funnily enough my daughter came home from school this week and told me that she and her friend had been talking about the impending birthday and what sort of present she would like. The birthday girl had told her that all she knew was that she didn't want any store vouchers from people, as no thought at all had to be put into these, and she would far rather have a gift from the heart, even if it only cost $1. From this we concluded that our gift would qualify.
I'm rather looking forward to seeing her face when she opens it up.
On a completely different note, I've just been listening to an item on National Radio about choreographer Ann Dewey who is developing a new dance work on why people knit. All the costumes and even the set have been knitted by 25 people spread across the world and Ann has also taught all the dancers to knit as part of the process. Unfortunately it looks like the it is only be performed in Auckland, at the moment. It sounds like a marvel and just the thing to lift us from the gloom of a cold winter. Perhaps a trip to Auckland is in order....
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Next up was two days with Sandra Meech who was over from the UK to teach. I felt very lucky to be in her class - 'Inspired Sketch and Stitch Books'. We were flat out right from the moment we started painting papers and into our sketch books to create surfaces to work on.
It was great - and utterly exhausting, and now I just need to get back into that sewing room and get onto it before it all disappears from my grasp