Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Black Sheep

It was my birthday on Monday and my darling hubby gave me the most amazing present! You really will never guess what it is!

We have 23 acres with 5 dairy steers, 5 Highland heifers, 3 alpacas, 4 Chickens, a dog, 2 cats and now I am the proud owner of 6 sheep! 3 ewes and 3 lambs! They arrived Saturday and I am ecstatic!

Twins! Double Trouble!

Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?

I bought a spinning wheel about 2 ½ years ago and have only had a tentative play with it (I had to buy some wool) It has been a dream of mine forever to have my own wool to spin and weave and knit!

We’ve had the alpacas for more than a year now and I really need to get them shorn! (and their nails clipped – note to self) I’ve been dreaming of a couple of sheep; one black and one white. Well, hubby went a bit overboard and we now have 3 different colours! They are Merinos so the wool should be fantastic!

Mum to the twins...........

The largest ewe is the mother of the twins and the darkest who is the mother of the smallest lamb wouldn’t let me get close enough for a good photo shoot!

Mum and Lambi!

The little black lambi is getting used to me though and was quite inquisitive!

Happy Birthday to me!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The River of Tears Artist's Journal Volume I

Almost exactly 8 years ago I was going through a very icky divorce. (The worst type). After the initial shock, disbelief and anger I started to keep a journal. (I think it was initially an idea given to me by my counsellor, who I started seeing because I was afraid of the degree of anger and overwhelment I was feeling.) It was never intended to be read by anyone else and was more a way of me venting my feelings than as an actual record of what was happening.

The River of Tears

I used a blank artist’s visual journal/sketchbook and wrote with the bright gaudy colours of kids textas/markers. At that time it was little things like colour that I used to cheer myself up. Being an Interior Designer, colour was always my thing; but I found I needed colour and started wearing bright colours too. The journalled words are of pain and anger; but also of small and wonderful happenings. The entries would often begin almost frantic or desperate and end more calmly and more accepting of what was happening. I used it as a way of changing my thought process from unworthiness and despair to a more positive pattern of empowerment and freedom.

All up I have 2 volumes and another that I started to fill with the poetry (of sorts) that just kind of fell out of me at that time.

So, here I am 8 years later, blissfully married (5 years last Saturday!) and living a lot of my dreams. I still have some issues and baggage but I guess that is normal and natural. Occasionally it bubbles up to the surface but mostly I am happy and more positive than I’ve ever been before. I’ve stopped running- I don’t need to run to mask the pain any more!

Pieces of Gold in the River of Tears

I've recently met a small group of artists and am privileged to be meeting with them once a month at our various homes. We chat, coffee, show and tell, lunch, tell some more, share books and WIP's etc. They are a lovely group and I've learnt so much already!

I always thought I would burn my journals one day- A little ceremonial burning and cleansing session with or without my hubby. I also have a lot of paperwork from those first few years on my own that I haven’t looked at since. My friends have suggested getting the poetry published – I don’t know that it’s good enough. They’d make pretty potent greeting cards but I’ll just hang on to them for now.

Inspiration hit me like a sledgehammer at our last little artist’s get together. A couple of them have been making artists books of various types. One of these artists, Babs showed us an artist's journal/book WIP and it so touched me. I knew then that I could do something with these journals of mine and that they would become the framework for my artist’s journal! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to start!

I have been doing a little something on this nearly every day, and am enjoying it sooooo much. It really is like Art Therapy. I’m sort of reliving some of the emotions as I read and cover and smudge and add colour and layers and layers and layers. I’m leaving some words visible and adding others and covering up a lot of the pain. It feels sooo good. Another round of good has come of these rantings!

There is no pressure; they are just for me. It is coming to me intuitively and I am loving the freedom and looseness of it. I am frustrated at only being able to do a double page spread at once and have had pages stuck together as I attempt to work on more!!! It is such fantastic fun!! I’m collaging with teabags, tissue paper, leaves, onion skin, feathers and anything I have at hand. There is no great pre planning or arrangement. The pages are just happening! The best sort of art! Spontaneous, intuitive and fulfilling!

Continental Divide WIP

This latest piece I'm working on utilizes a couple of my recent lino cut prints onto fabric. I'm having so much fun adding new elements and stitching, stitching, stitching!

Continental Divide Detail

The sunburst is lino cut printed and stitched on. I have since added running stitch to each of the vertical lines on the printed cotton.

Continental Divide Detail

These rocks are lino cut printed onto silk. I have stitched running stitch around each rock.

I love the detail starting to build up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wow... Look how Yellow!!

There is a little story behind the title of this post; so bear with me.
A few years ago, not long after marrying hubby we moved to a small acreage and I could finally have chooks; which we free ranged. Consequently, their egg yolks were always vivid yellow (I believe it's when they eat a lot of green grass.) One day I made quiche and as I took it out of the oven I exclaimed 'Wow... !!! Look how Yellow..!!' Now, Hubby and the kids tease me about it!

Last Friday, Rose was home from school and I was in the studio - playing. I decided to try some tumeric dyeing! Rose was watching with fascination as I tossed all sorts of bits and pieces into the dye pot. I couldn't believe the colour these pieces were turning before my eyes. Before I knew it, those same words fell out of my mouth again! Rosie was rolling around laughing......... but I kept my composure and just kept throwing things in the pot!
Seriously, I had no idea the colour would be so strong! I mean, I know it turns rice quite yellow but I wasn't prepared for this! I used approximately 4 heaped tablespoons of tumeric to about 2 cups of water. I boiled it all up until the tumeric had mostly 'dissolved' then turned the heat down and added my fabric.

Tumeric Dyeing
Clockwise from top left:
Silk, which took the colour beautifully 
Cotton which I concertina folded and bundled with string; it's showing a lovely grid pattern.
A piece of wool batting.
A cotton crocheted needle case with wool? felt pages. I was given this years ago by my now ex MIL and never really liked it. It was a neutral colour but look at it now!! I'm in love with it!
A small scrap of synthetic (just wanted to see how it would take the dye) It's turned out pale lemon.
A larger piece of cotton muslin which took the colour beautifully.
Double cotton muslin which has a grid weave pattern
and lastly a piece of vintage cotton from an old serviette.

(There was also a piece of thick wool felt which is a real sunny yellow like the needle case which didn't make it's way into the photo as it had blown into the garden!)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rust Dyeing Fabric

This has been my latest fascination and I’ve been having so much fun! Plus, it's so easy!
It’s amazing what you find in a farm shed! I wet the fabric in a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water; squeeze out the excess and then wrap the fabric around the rusted items; put the whole lot in a plastic bag (or wrap the whole lot in plastic sheeting) for larger items. I’ve been sitting the whole lot on the sink in my studio which gets a lot of morning sun. Most of these pieces were dyed overnight.

Rust Dye Sample Pieces

This photo shows a selection of pieces; at the top a piece of coloured thai silk which only took on minimal colour; From left to right 1) a piece of silk (?) which took on the shapes of an old cog beautifully! 2)another piece of silk which took on a grey colour with rust marks too 3) a commercially dyed cotton which also took on the cog shape and 4) a plain coloured cotton which took on minimal colour. I have just read somewhere about preparing the fabric first so it takes on even more colour! I'll try that next.

Rust Dye on Silk Detail

L) Silk cog-back
R) Cotton cog - back

Cotton Muslin with Grate Rust

I love the process and absolutely am in love with the results! I love that the fronts are almost outlines of the shapes and the backs are more solid. This is especially noticeable on the cog pieces. I want to do more..............

Of Orchids and Orchards


I've been busy in the studio and have several things on the boil! (Nothing unusual there!) I think I'll add them to my blog seperately though as I'm having trouble uploading more than 2-3 photos at once!

This lino cut from last week wasn’t particularly successful. I realised too late that I had the main petals of the flower parallel to the main axis of the design! It just doesn’t look right but I had already printed a few onto paper and fabric before the mistake dawned on me.

Orchid Lino Print on Paper

The paper ones may again be relegated to the collage pile and I have started some surface embroidery on the fabric prints. Oh well, at least I can still use my mistakes in some way!

Orchid Lino Print on Fabric

Here are the gorgeous orchid’s that inspired the work. A dear member of our Gardening club gave them to me after our last meeting. We have an ongoing ‘Bloom Competition’ whereby each meeting we bring along 1 x Native Bloom and 1 x Exotic Bloom which are judged and a small prize given at the AGM! It’s very low key and just for fun! (I must say I usually forget about it until I see all the lovely flowers in vases on arrival!)
Exotic Orchids


Speaking of gardening we have finally started our orchard! When we purchased this property about 18 months ago there wasn’t a single fruit tree here! That’s very unusual for a rural location where there is usually at least a gnarly old lemon tree that has survived the extremes of sub zero frosts and 40 deg C! So, we have started with a plum, a Red Delicious Apple (the only type hubby will eat – apart from apples in baking and desserts which I love to use) hence the Granny Smith tree! These will apparently be ok for cross pollination and I need to get another plum tree. I want to add citrus and some nuts as well as apricots, peaches and nectarines.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Of Magic Moments and Journeys....

Magic Moment

I am hoping to enter a quilt into the Bunbury Patchwork and Quilting 2010 International Quilt Challenge. I‘ve had the challenge fabric for about 4 months now; it was actually a pleasant surprise when I opened the envelope because the piece contains my very favourite colour combination -orange and hot pink! There was always a quilt lurking in those colours anyway; so this will push me into action! I know it sounds gaudy but I was married in a very simple halter neck orange Thai silk wedding dress! (With hot pink Thai silk covered heels!) I have some of the leftover orange silk here somewhere......

I am playing around with a design concept at the moment, and have completed my very first piece of needle turn appliqué as a sample! I’m so very proud of myself as I really didn’t think I’d have the finesse to make it look ok. I’m sure with some practice I can become quite good at this. Perhaps I should look up some instructions for inner corners etc. What is happening to me? What’s this talk of samples? Don’t I just usually jump on in and see where it takes me? Practice? What’s going on?

The theme is: ‘MAGIC MOMENT’. My inspiration is the moment I met my hubby- when our eyes locked! OMG!!! The idea I have in mind is very time consuming; so we’ll see how much patience I have and whether or not I end up getting it completed in time! If not it will be a wonderful addition to our walls when I do get it done! Entries are due in by 22nd Feb 2010!

Needle Turn Applique Sample
Where Will the Journey End?
That’s the title of this piece I have been working on incorporating one of the fabric print lino cuts (printed onto a piece of the onion-skin dyed cotton) The background is onion-skin dyed silk, and there is also a small piece of the wool felt from that dye batch too. Isn’t that ginger colour gorgeous?
I used vintage buttons (some wooden) and vintage wooden beads. The quote ‘migrate’ is inkjet printed onto paper, with interfacing ironed on the back, tea stained and crumpled. I quite like the technique and it is the first time I have incorporated paper.

Detail showing feather lino cut and vintage buttons
I have added a hanging sleeve at the back and it now hangs from a piece of gum tree branch.

Detail showing vintage wooden buttons, tea-stained inkjet printed quote
and onion-skin dyed wool felt.
I’m finding dabbling in mixed media and collage so freeing and sooooo much fun! I really enjoyed making this piece!

I can use portions of unsuccessful paintings, drawings and prints; my dyed fabric, vintage finds etc. I’m also excited about fabric collages! It feels wonderful to not be limited by materials and to have a full range of both materials and techniques to choose from.

I have been inspired by a few books I have bought recently:
Mixed-Media Collage - An Exploration of Contemporary Artists, Methods, and Materials by Holly Harrison
Collage Sourcebook-Exploring the Art and Techniques of Collage (Quarry Books)
Fabric Art Collage - 40+ Mixed Media Techniquies by Rebekah Meier
I can recommend each of them (all available from Amazon)
Back to Puddleducking..............!!

'Where Will the Journey End?'


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