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!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stitch and Bitch

This is happening tonight.  Have you considered starting something like this in your own community?  It's worth it - friendships form, collaborations evolve, inspiration abounds, laughter erupts, stimulating and sometimes lively discussion happens.  It's one of the best things I've ever organised.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

100 Days Project

A creative practice project is something creative done regularly with a certain intent- a journal quilt every month, a zentangle per day, you've probably seen or read examples of them as they seem pretty popular around the blogosphere in recent years.
"Show up, show up, show up and after a while the muse shows up, too."   
-  Isabel Allende, Author. 
I've thought about creative practice projects before.  Like way back in May 2015.  And I guess I have been doing one in a loose way with my little colour compositions, but that particular project doesn't have accountability, or the support of being part of a bigger group.

An artist friend introduced me to the 100 Days Project recently.  She has participated before and found that it was enriching, challenging, frustrating, confronting and most of all, worthwhile.  (Find her work here).  The 100 Days Project in New Zealand started in 2011 and has been running annually since.  Except for last year - I don't know what happened there.  There is a website where you sign up, create a profile, and then when the project starts, you record your efforts there every day.
"The project gives anyone (young & old, artist and non-artist) a framework and the permission to be creative. It challenges you to dig deep into your creative reserves, to rely on your readiness to work in order to achieve creative breakthrough."   
- 100 Day Project, NZ. 
I signed up yesterday.  The project starts on August 24th and you have until the 20th to join up.  I'm nervous and excited because I decided to do something that will challenge me and, hopefully, enrich my textile art in a new way.

I've called my project 'Facing Up' and here's how I described it:

"I'm a textile artist, afraid of faces. So here comes 100 faces, in textiles or not, with the intent of 'facing' my fear."

This is a detail from a quilt about Ranginui and Papatuanuku (sky father and earth mother).  I think it's the only time I've included faces in a quilt.

The great thing about this is that my stitch and bitch group that I run through the studio and gallery is taking part too.  Not all of us, but at least four others.  When it gets hard and when we get stuck, we'll have someone to commiserate with.  When we feel the exhilaration of breakthrough and satisfaction of completion, we'll have someone to celebrate with.

And at the end of it all, I happen to own a gallery where we can have a 100 Days Project exhibition!

If you did a hundred days project, what would it be?

If you want to follow along with me, I'll be posting to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag of #100DaysOfFaces and I'll probably post here in a digest form with several days all at once, along with my thoughts about the process.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fish. Mullet to be precise.

I took this photo of mullet swimming near the wharf back in April.  How could I not try and make a quilt from it?

I also knew I had the perfect piece of hand dyed silk organza to work with.

Behind the organza is hand dyed muslin (not quilters muslin, but a very loose woven cotton that might be called cheesecloth in other countries, but I've always called it muslin), and then a white cotton quilting weight fabric as a base.

The freezer paper fish are templates that I use to cut out fish from cotton or organza fabrics.  Then I can place them in the layers to give the feeling of depth and fuse them in place with mistyfuse.

This silk organza fish is on top, but the transparency of the silk can be deceiving, just like water.

And then I've added borders of these two hand dyed cottons.  I wanted a link to the industrialness of the wharf that surrounds us, while showing a glimpse of the secret animal lives going on just under the surface.

And now to quilt it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The End of a Chapter (we're selling our house)

I started this blog waaaaay back in 2009 and my very second post was about moving out onto our piece of land.  We had purchased a 10 acre (4.4) hectare block with dreams about building a house on it, having a garden, orchard, animals - an enviable lifestyle.

We had built a shed for a tractor and other farm equipment, and eventually we decided to wall the shed in and live in it before we built our house.

Well, we never did build our house.  We liked the shed house so much we made it bigger and better and then built another shed right next to it, then a verandah, then a deck and then another deck.  Oh and we added a studio and fancy laundry (with the best stainless steel bench for painting and dyeing ever!!).

We raised calves, we had chickens.

I bred rabbits and ducks.

There were some sheep for a while and consequently, really cute lambs.  The vege garden went through stages of awesomeness and neglectedness.  We planted about a billion trees.  The kids grew.

And then we decided to move onto a boat!  A bit of a radical lifestyle change but right for us at the time.

Well, we've now lived aboard for almost two years.  Originally I said I'd give it a year to see if I liked it.  I do, and so we are staying put.  Now that we've decided that, we've also decided to sell our piece of land.  We want to close that chapter, free ourselves up a bit financially, and consolidate our lives here on the boat.

There are so many things I'll miss.  The beautiful views, the woodburner, my studio and laundry bench, free-range eggs.  But there are things that I won't miss - the long drive to get the kids to school, battling the weeds, mud in winter, escapee animals.

It feels like the right thing to do.

So, um, if anyone wants to buy a lifestyle block in central Bay of Islands, New Zealand, drop me an email, I can hook you up!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. A book review.

My quilty friend and I have taken over our quilt club's librarian position this year.  Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must add that she's doing most of the work and I'm getting to tag along for the fun bits.

Such as browsing for new books, then getting to read and review them when we get them.  My book wishlist is getting longer and longer as I discover more of the wonderful books available to us quilters.  I guess we need to thank the boom in crafts and quilting as popular hobbies for the huge array, there truly is something for everyone.

The title that I'm currently reading is 'The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. A guide to creating, quilting and living courageously' by Sherri Lynn Wood.  I listened to a podcast featuring Sherri Lynn a while back and thought she sounded like a really interesting person so I was keen to read her book and see if my expectations met up.  They did, and then some!  I also knew the book was an STC Craft and Melanie Falick book, which in my experience are always a little different and of very high quality.

I'm not really one for books filled with patterns.  I started designing my own quilts pretty early on in my quilting journey, and I'm just not very interested in following someone else's design, so the fact that this is not a pattern book is the first appealing thing about it.  The second appealing thing is that it's a lot more than a how-to technique book.  There is a very helpful section of how-to's in the back, but that is not the main thrust at all.

What Sherri Lynn does in the Improv Handbook is try to encourage the reader to follow a 'score' or a set of general instructions, but make it their own by placing their own parameters or limits or adaptations around the work they do within the score.  She also provides lots of ideas for those parameters so the reader can have something to work with if they need direction.  There are examples of how other quilters have worked with her scores and the different work they produce is fascinating (and beautiful!).

I highly recommend this book.  I'm even considering buying my own copy because the thought of giving up this copy to the club library gives me a few pangs!  The writing is thought-provoking and thorough and the photography beautiful.  So if you are looking for a good book, add this one to your list.

PS it's the second week of school holidays here in NZ so I'm taking the kids on a road trip.  That's my excuse for such shocking photography, a motel room bedside light does not make for brilliant shots.

And I'm blogging though an app on my iPad and I can't figure out how to embed links so here's the link to the podcast with Abby Glassenberg:

And here's the link to Sherri Lyn Wood's website and blog:  Yes, Daintytime is the name of her site, I told you she was interesting!