Northcliffe sojourn

Goodness me I have been very remiss and not posted here for a very long time.  I have been busy with a variety of projects and taught some really lovely workshops which you have probably read about over on the Facebook page.

I was determined to try and get back to the blog and my recent week in Northcliffe in the beautiful Southern Forest Region of Southwestern Australia is a good place to start.  I was artist in residence at the Painted Tree Gallery in Northcliffe for a week at the end of August and scheduled a variety of book making workshops.  An ideal activity for winter in WA!

The Painted Tree Gallery is now administered by Southern Forest Arts and is a beautiful space nestled between the Northcliffe Visitor Centre, the Library and the Community Resource Centre.  It is a rammed earth structure which blends into the landscape perfectly and the wide timber verandahs at the back of the building overlook the start of the Understory Sculpture Walk.

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The beautiful view from the Painted Tree Gallery.

Aside from the beauty of the forest and the bush the sense of community and friendliness in Northcliffe is immediately apparent.  Story time for mums and bubs at the library was well attended, lots of visitors called in to see what was happening and have a chat about the books.  The Community Resource Centre seemed to be busy all day and provide an amazing amount of services to the community.  I really appreciated the coffee machine – great coffee for a gold coin donation.  Oh and a local wildlife carer brought in a couple of orphaned joeys most days to the visitor centre – so I got to cuddle a kangaroo. I was also invited to the local book club meeting and made to feel very welcome in lots of ways.

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The karri trees are amazing but unless you are there you cannot really get a sense of how large they are – maybe you can get a better idea of the sheer size in the next picture.

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The workshop participants made a variety of lovely books – including one very special artist’s journal with Arches watercolour paper pages.  We shared a great morning (actually it turned into most of the day) dyeing paper with plants and got some spectacular and painterly results as well as some wonderful subtle and sensitive prints.  I spent a great couple of hours over at the District High School with an innovative and engaged group of students who had a great sense of humour.

And although I didn’t get to personally meet her this trip I participated in a collaboration with Northcliffe artist Aimee Dickson who is currently exploring marbling on paper – here is our little journal

All this would not have been possible without the wonderful support from my friends Anne and Lizzie who put me up (put up with me!), and assisted with setting up and packing up (I’m suffering with a very sore shoulder at present).

To celebrate this enriching week we went to dine at Foragers on Saturday evening.  It is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time – open for dinner only one evening a week it is in high demand.  The venue holds 50 guests in a long table setting and is welcoming and friendly.  Beautiful local food, great service, and a truly enjoyable evening.  I loved it! I met the gorgeous Sophie and she graciously signed a copy of her lovely book for me. http://foragers.com.au

Northcliffe is a great place to visit and I was very surprised at the amount of visitors there were in the middle of winter – some Bibblemum track walkers, many caravans and rv occupants and the odd backpacker or two.  The town is now gearing up for the wildflower season – there are some spectacular native orchids down there I am told.  One day I hope to get back there with my camera in wildflower season.

 

 

Busy Busy Busy

I have neglected my blog for a while – but have been busy in the background – most recently preparing for Margaret River Region Open Studios.  My lovely friend Maureen Munro from Margaret River Machine Quilting is sharing her studio with me for the two weeks 11th April – 27th April 2015.  You can view the catalogue here http://www.mrros.com.au/event-catalogue/

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Maureen’s studio overlooks a beautiful reserve of karri trees and my space for the duration of Open Studios will be well and truly “open” – I will have a dye pot on the go and am hoping to experiment with some of the weeds I have noticed down there as well as some windfalls and with Maureen’s gracious permission some of the plants in her garden.

We are running some very simple “make and take” workshops each day – this is the scheduled programme – but things may change without notice – if you are interested in a particular technique please phone.

Margaret River Region Open Studios - Make and Take Programme

Margaret River Region Open Studios – Make and Take Programme

Margaret River Region Open Studios is a wonderful event with over 100 artists opening their studios to the public – we hope to see you down there.

Turning left overs into memories

During India Flint’s workshop here India showed us how to turn an old shirt into a very clever coverall apron. The instructions are in her book Second Skin (which is such good reading). I used an old linen shirt – one of the sleeves has become a pocket – so handy for all the bits and pieces you need to hand in the studio. There was a wealth of bits of string, cotton, wool and bits of fabric left after the workshop that no one has claimed so I have been busy stitching them onto my apron. I decided that enough was enough when I ran out of the abandoned threads – you could go on stitching forever! I have just bundled it up and it is in the dye pot right now – I am going to try and be patient and leave it a while, but I may not be able to resist opening it in the next couple of days. This apron will serve as a memory of 3 wonderful days spent in the company of some really nice ladies.

Stirling Street Arts Centre Autumn Fair

Last Sunday was the Autumn Fair at SSAC in Bunbury. What an enjoyable day. Folios and Fibre had a stall amongst an array of other stalls with awesome handmade goodness. It was a great opportunity for me to catch up with many people I had not seen for a long time. We were serenaded by the lovely Kate from Collie – she has the sweetest voice and played and sang some very easy listening. I had a stall next to handmade_and_marina, my friend who makes soaps and lotions which are so kind to your skin. Nice to see another truly handmade market in the south west.

Upcycling some leather

The past week I have been busily working in my studio making some leather bound journals. The leather for the covers has been claimed from some vintage leather clothing – lined with Nepalese lokta paper to stop the little bits of black leather fibres coming off onto the pages.  The accent leathers are  fish leather from the boys at Mermaid Leather in Esperance, Western Australia (if you are ever in Esperance – it is well worth a visit to their tannery, showroom/information centre – they produce a lovely product from fish skins, something that would otherwise be discarded) and a fabulous leather that I found in Melbourne on my recent trip. This lovely textured leather is from Bufo marinus (otherwise known as that invasive creature the cane toad!)

 

Leather Journals A6 landscape  $35 each - Cartridge paper pages - accent leathers are: orange and pink - fish leather; purple and teal - cane toad leather.

Leather Journals A6 landscape $35 each – Cartridge paper pages – accent leathers are: orange and pink – fish leather; purple and teal – cane toad leather.

I also unearthed some very small scraps of upholstery leather from my stash and made a little collection of “jelly bean” journals – these are tiny – approx 5cm x 7cm with different pastel coloured pages.  They are closed with elastic and decorated with vintage buttons – a little bit fanciful, but useful to keep with your mobile phone if you need to jot down any important numbers, or write mini shopping lists on!

Jelly Bean Journals! made from leather scraps - vintage buttons and various coloured papers for the pages $5 each.

Jelly Bean Journals! made from leather scraps – vintage buttons and various coloured papers for the pages $5 each.

Just a little bit more dyeing

Life is a little quieter now after that burst of workshop energy.  I must confess to have been extremely tired after India Flint’s workshop here but of course managed a little energy burst to put a few bits of fabric in the dyepot leftover from the workshop.  Two scarf lengths are particularly attractive to me and it has taken a great strength of will to put labels and prices on them!

Australian Merino Wool Challis scarf eco coloured with E. cinerea, E nicholii and Agonis flexuosa $45

Australian Merino Wool Challis scarf eco coloured with E. cinerea, E nicholii and Agonis flexuosa $45

Silk/Australian Merino Wool voile scarf - eco coloured with eucalypt leaves $45

Silk/Australian Merino Wool voile scarf – eco coloured with eucalypt leaves $45

Stepping back in time

With the excitement of hosting India Flint’s workshop here last week I did not have time to properly post about my workshop in Melbourne two weeks ago – so we shall turn back the clock a little in this post.

Flight schedules allowed me to enjoy a day prior to the workshop wandering the streets of Fitzroy – talking to the owners and custodians of the wonderful quirky shops and galleries there.

Even the street furniture is welcoming in Fitzroy!

Even the street furniture is welcoming in Fitzroy!

 

 

 

One lovely lady recommended the “eatery” of the moment in Fitzroy – Naked for Satan.  I have to confess that without her recommendation I never would have set foot inside a place so named on my own!  It used to be a brewery owned by a Mr. Satan and because of the heat generated by the still (which is in pride of place in the restaurant) the workers wore very little – hence the name – very clever!  The rooftop restaurant gives wonderful 360 degrees for miles and the casual restaurant downstairs serves pintxos for $1 each at lunchtime – you can dine royally for $5!

The workshop “Building Books with the Tactile Qualities of Fibre and Cloth” was held at Beautiful Silks in Fitzroy.  The experience of entering this old woolstores building sets my senses on fire – the smell of the silk fibres stored floor to ceiling in the “shop” section, being led through the rabbit warren of work spaces and offices, bathrooms and kitchens and finally downstairs into the basement where we were to work.  The basement is large with white painted walls and looking up I saw massive timber joists supporting the floor above, strengthened with little criss crosses of timber.  I was allowed a peek at the old diesel engine that used to provide power for the building – now redundant and hiding in its cubby hole. The basement is a great workshop space – lots of room to work – running water if we needed it and lovely huge tables.

We all arrived early on the first day and Sandy Webster launched straight into introductions and immediately started bouncing ideas around for each of the participants as they showed the materials they had brought to use.  The participants introduced themselves and I was thrilled to meet 7 other ladies who had similar interests to me – three of the ladies were also working with eucalyptus dyes on silk and wool.  I spent the first day working on the “pages” of my book – stitching fragments of eco coloured silk onto a substrate of cotton/linen fabric.  I was determined to have pages to sew into my book on the second day so stitched well into the evening back at the hotel!

The pages of my book

The pages of my book

Day 2 – first thing I had to do was apply gesso to my pages to provide a surface to write on the fabric – and then fold down my paper into an accordion for the spine of the book.  I stitched the fabric pages interspersed with paper pages into the accordion.  The day went by so quickly but I was pleased to have a book “block” completed in 2 days. I will make covers and put the book together very soon.  Sad to leave the new friends I made in this workshop but we have vowed to meet up again in the future.

The finished book block

The finished book block

If you get an opportunity to participate in a workshop with Sandy Webster I  would urge you to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

The wonderful Sandy Webster with Jane Flower at Beautiful Silks

The wonderful Sandy Webster with Jane Flower at Beautiful Silks

My trip to Melbourne to take part in this workshop was funded by a Grant through Country Arts WA – thank you for making it possible.Art Indemnity AustraliaCountryArts_Logo