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.

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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.

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

A day of mixed emotions

My 9 squares of cloth stitched together then cut into 4 - those pieces rearranged and stitched back together

My 9 squares of cloth stitched together then cut into 4 – those pieces rearranged and stitched back together

Thursday was the final day of our “Wayfarer’s Windfall Cloth” workshop with India Flint.  I am thrilled with my pieces of cloth dyed with various “bits” of the eucalyptus trees here on our small property – I finished sewing together 9 pieces of dyed cloth and India then showed us a way of cutting our cloths and re-joining them to make the cloth look so much more complex – a great party trick of India’s.  I decided to cut my cloth despite having my heart in my mouth when I took the scissors to it! I love my cloth and plan to join a few more pieces to it and do a lot more stitching on it.  Spending quality time with a likeminded group of ladies is a great way to recharge your batteries and as I am adding more stitches to my cloth I will be thinking of those other ladies and reflecting fondly on our 3 days.

We put all our pieces of silk and wool together on the shed floor to resemble a huge patchwork quilt – quite an achievement in 3 short days.  So a sense of great joy in all that we had accomplished paired with the sadness as everyone went their separate ways – and yet a sense of great anticipation as India has agreed to come back next year!

A patchwork quilt of silk and wool covering the shed floor - what an achievement in just 3 short days!

A patchwork quilt of silk and wool covering the shed floor – what an achievement in just 3 short days!

Some magic happened overnight

Day 2 – India Flint workshop.

This morning we had lots of parcels to open!  The little parcels of silk and eucalyptus leaves, bark and nuts were laid out on the grass whilst India explained the various influences on the bundles and then we got to work unwrapping them.  There were some great colours on our cloth and with the knowledge gained from what we did yesterday we set to work wrapping more bundles and stitching together our Wayfarer’s Windfall Cloths.  We have little spills of thread in a dyepot overnight and homework – which is why I am writing this at 10.30pm!

some of our fabrics just out of the pot!

some of our fabrics just out of the pot!

little bundles of delight - just waiting to be unwrapped!

little bundles of delight – just waiting to be unwrapped!

India Flint Workshop Day 1

I am privileged to be part of a fantastic group of ladies enjoying a workshop here in Western Australia with India Flint http://www.indiaflint.com

This group of ladies have come together from all corners of the state and what lovely people they are.  We told abridged personal histories by way of introduction to each other and to India. In the 20 or 30 minutes prior to the start of the workshop India had wandered around the property and found a proliferation of material to colour fabric with.  Her knowledge is phenomenal and she imparts it freely in her wonderful quiet manner.  We were then let loose on silk and plant matter and already have several pieces of fabric which we are not allowed to unwrap until tomorrow.  It’s killing me to have those pots sitting outside and I am not allowed to poke or investigate!

Looking forward to some stitching and more mark marking tomorrow.

India Flint demonstrating how to bundle our silk with plant matter.

India Flint demonstrating how to bundle our silk with plant matter.