Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lost property and pattern repeats

When I was young I hated carrying things around with me. I liked being free and unencumbered. I distinctly remember being annoyed at having to carry a little wallet to school to hold my bus pass and tuckshop money. And has for handbags, I couldn't think of anything worse than lugging one of those around all the time. Consequently I lost my wallet a lot. In fact I pretty much lost anything I had to carry around with me, as I'd always put it down and forget to pick it up again.
These days that habit only resurfaces when I'm really busy, stressed or distracted. Last week, for instance, I left my personal mobile in a taxi on Saturday, my work mobile in a cafe on Tuesday and my wallet in a train on Wednesday. That should give you a bit of an idea of how bad the week was. What was truly unbelievable though, was that I got them all back! There is seriously something good about these Melbourne people.
Back to the crappy week, which was particularly frustrating because I was actually really organised for my study deadline, then 10 days before due date, our teacher added two 16cm squares and one A3 painted repeat to our tasks. That's a huge amount to do in a week when you're just getting used to painting again, working full-time and have deadlines there as well. I got the assignment in on time, but there was a seriously late night of painting on Thursday. That made me next to useless at work on Friday and now I have to go in today (Sunday) to make up for it.
This is not ideal when I still have a presentation to give this week, but hopefully that will be the end of it before mid-semester break in three weeks, because I'm also doing a huge tender project at work that is going to be all-consuming before its 5 May deadline.

I am counting down the days until then, so life can get back to being vaguely normal and I can share some other bits and pieces I'm managing to keep going on the side. A wee bit of knitting and some embroidery. And of course, the planning for my Mexico trip.
For now, these images are what I've been working on in class. We used lots of different mediums over the semester for creating floral motifs including pencil, watercolour, gouache, ink and crayon, before building up to a final pattern repeat you can see at the bottom. Despite the last week, it's been a lot of fun.

I do miss my blogging though, so please forgive the absences and wish me luck in making it to the May deadline!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The #economyblockalong

It feels like the longest time since I've posted about anything I'm making – and even longer since I've posted about a finished project. And while finishing anything seems a long way off at the moment, I thought it was high time I posted about a crafty work in progress.

Early in 2013 a craze hit Instagram that I just had to join. It was the #scrappytripalong project – even doing an image search on Google gives you an idea of how big it was! Hundreds of people around the world made the scrappy quilt in colourways of their choice and posted their progress and finishes online.

My progress on that quilt is for another day, but when 2014 rocked around the new challenge was the #economyblockalong. I really did try to resist this one. I knew I was going to have a lot going on for the first half of this year and I really didn't need another quilt to add to the list.
As you've probably guessed, that plan went pear-shaped when I remembered a fabric range I had sitting in my stash that would suit this quilt perfectly. Not only that, but my blocks would be much bigger due to the size of the centre motif, so I figured I'd finish it faster...

I'm not so sure about that logic, but I am making progress and I'd really like to have the quilt top together by the end of the month. It seems do-able with 30 days to go!
As an aside, I really can't wait to move into a place of my own. One of the things that bugs me a lot about this rental is the light. My beautiful Marrickville apartment in Sydney had the most amazing light that was perfect for taking pics for the blog, but this south-facing apartment in Melbourne is just dreadful! So I apologise for the quality of these pics, it's the best I could do this afternoon.

Has anyone else jumped on the #economyblockalong bandwagon?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

White Night Melbourne

I'm bringing you a bit of out-and-about colour this week. Last night was White Night in Melbourne – an all-night arts festival based on the original Nuit Blanche in France – a variation of which is now held annually in about 20 cities all over the world. All the public galleries, art spaces and museums are open for the night hosting various exhibitions, installations and performances.

Along with the events, a highlight of the Melbourne festival is the light projection along a stretch of Flinders Street. Starting with Flinders Street Station (shown below), a series of artworks is projected onto buildings along the strip.
The images changed every 20 minutes or so, and this year they were all based around a circus theme. The images are designed around the shapes of the buildings themselves – just amazing.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Documenting the creative process

I knew it was going to happen – in fact part of the reason I signed up for this course was to develop a better artistic process – our teacher said those dreaded words "you'll have to keep a visual diary".

I was about to tell you I don't know why I have such a problem with this, but I do. I'm not good with routine, with habit, with maintenance. Also, why keep notes about a project, when you could just get in and make it?
Left to right: Rose wallpaper, via Death of a Stylist,  Camellias by Rosemary*, @floretflower via Instagram.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mexico here I come!

The most exciting thing happened this week... Early in December I came across the idea of doing an artist's residency as a way travelling and getting to learn about other textile cultures. After a bit of googling I found Arquetopia. They had the perfect residency for someone like me who is just moving into a career in textiles – an instructional residency. This meant I could learn from experts while I'm there.

It looked like the deadline had just passed, so I emailed quickly to see if it was possible to still apply. Lucky for me they had extended the application period for a week. I filled in the forms, wrote a project proposal, organised my referees, put a portfolio together and dug out my CV. A couple of weeks later I was asked for more detailed information, so I sent that off too.

Then, with less than 24 hours' notice, I was asked to do a Skype interview! Very nerve-wracking. I haven't done an interview for over 10 years and I wasn't really sure what they wanted to know. I thought the interview went pretty well, but I didn't feel like I nailed the project section. Sure enough, another email came through about two weeks later asking for a more detailed project proposal.

I felt a bit stuck at this stage, so I did some research, pulled out a few reference books and wrote a more comprehensive proposal last weekend. I figured if I still hadn't nailed it, then it just wasn't meant to be. I mean, it felt like a bit of a long-shot anyway. I have no exhibition experience, I've never done another residency and I'm really only just starting out.

Then, on Friday morning, the email came through:
"Congratulations and felicidades!  We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to participate in the Artist-in-Residence Programs at Arquetopia."

Honestly, if I thought I could have gotten away with doing a soccer-style victory lap around the oval in front of my house, I would have. I was THAT excited. In the middle of August I get to fly to Oaxaca for a three-week weaving residency followed by a three-week embroidery residency. How lucky am I?

You can read a bit more about the residency here and about Oaxaca here.

I've now got to do an awful lot of planning and research before I go, so if anyone out there has contacts in Oaxaca or information on Mexican textiles they could share, please let me know.

And last, but not least, a big shout out to Di Richardson and Peter Devine who provided my references – thank you!

Adiós amigos!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Tutorial for an invisible edge zipper on a bound and quilted cushion

Over the last couple of months I've been making some quilted cushions out of my Mod Mongolian fabric. I wanted to bind them the same way I would a quilt, but I also wanted to have a zipper at the side. And for once, the internet let me down, and I couldn't find a tutorial on how to go about it. So, after a bit of trial and error, I've created my own.

A few measurements to start – my finished cushion front is 50cm square and the zipper was 46cm. I had tried a longer zipper, but that caused a bit of grief with the binding. The instructions from here on should work equally well no matter what size your cushion.

First I trimmed back the wadding and backing to the edge of the front. Then I made the binding. I use Canoe Ridge Creations binding method outlined here. The only difference was that I used a 2 1/4" strip for the cushion binding.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Spoonflower challenge

One of my goals for 2014 is to enter a few more of the Spoonflower fabric design challenges. They have one every week, but the themes don't always spark inspiration, or they might be more sewing-pattern-related or I just don't have time. But the one that's being voted on now, was definitely one I was up for.

The theme was a spring floral cheaters' quilt block ie make it look like it could be patchwork, without it really being pieced. We also had a restricted colour palette for this one, which I quite enjoyed as a challenge.

This is my design at a fat quarter size.
There's such anticipation once you've put your design up, waiting for voting to open so you can see what everyone else has done. I'm always amazed at the variety of what's on offer, even with the restricted palette. There's some lovely work out there – check it out (and vote) here.

Instead of just leaving it there, I decided not to waste the little florals and made them into fabric swatches of their own. I felt free to expand the palette from here since it wasn't part of the competition. This is the larger floral. I did six colourways, four of which are below, dummied up onto cushions (got to love Photoshop!)