A weekend away

Last weekend was a long weekend (public holiday) in Western Australia.  Lots of things were happening – the start of the Perth Royal Show – the AFL Football Grand Final, with the Fremantle Dockers playing in it for the first time – and something I have been looking forward to for quite a while – a felting workshop with Pam Hovel from Raw Edge Textiles.

The workshop was admirably organised by Chez and Kaye from Cranbrook and Mount Barker respectively, and was held in Cranbrook a small farming town in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia.  My friend Val from Maybrook Designs and I travelled together – the drive took about 3 1/2 hours – amazing how time goes by so fast when you are chatting! We arrived in Cranbrook and quickly found our accommodation at the caravan park – where we were welcomed by Steve the Caretaker who ensured we knew our way around, pointing out the fabulous facilities in the campers kitchen there.

We phoned Chez and were immediately invited out to her house, just a couple of minutes drive from Cranbrook, to meet her and another couple of ladies who had arrived before us and were also staying at the caravan park.  Chez has converted an old railway carriage from the early 1900’s into self contained accommodation, and as our tutor Pam had not arrived yet (she was staying in the carriage) we were treated to a guided tour.  What a fantastic restoration job Chez has done – the carriage has pressed tin ceilings timber walls and all mod cons! Surprising what fits into a small space though – it has 3 bedrooms – a lounge/kitchen area and bathroom and toilet. And just for something different OMO patrols his paddock just outside the window – OMO is old man ostrich!

We had a fabulous workshop with Pam making a felted garment and then eco dyeing it on the last day. Chez had booked the Cranbrook Hall – we had so much space to work in and were able to access the hall outside workshop hours if we were keen! I learnt so much and met some fantastic ladies from the Great Southern area.

There was an art exhibition in Cranbrook held as part of the Great Southern Art Trail and I snuck across to have a look – some amazing work by local artists and a mindblowing exhibition of local wildflowers.  Although we did not get to see much of the area on this trip Cranbrook made us very welcome and I have placed on my wish list a visit to the area next spring to stay in Chez’s railway carriage and find some wonderful wildflowers.

My nuno felted tunic bundled up and just out of the depot

My nuno felted tunic bundled up and just out of the depot


Kaye's top just unwrapped - beautiful subtle colours!

Kaye’s top just unwrapped – beautiful subtle colours!

Chez's tunic - just unbundled!

Chez’s tunic – just unbundled!


The law of Murphy

I have been playing around with eco dyeing for quite a few years now – since I saw India Flint conducting a workshop at Fibres West and subsequently purchasing her book Eco Colour.  I mostly use what is on our small block here in the South West of Australia and as we have quite a few E. globulus I have used the leaves quite a lot – they smell absolutely divine bubbling away in the dyepot and  have produced  green and brown prints from the leaves.  During the wonderful workshop India conducted here in April I remember asking her which Eucalypt species were producing some vibrant orange prints and was surprised that she replied E. globulus.  I have been dyeing a few scarves in the past couple of weeks and wanted some without orange on them so thought it would be safe to bundle a bit of E. globulus.

I had a little parcel unwrapping session yesterday and was amazed to find Murphys Law had been at work – orange prints! Nature is wonderful.

Silk scarf eco printed with E. golbulus

Silk scarf eco printed with E. golbulus

Guerilla Art?

I love quirky ideas, the concept of “paying it forward” and using recycled materials.  A germ of an idea has been growing for a while to send out a little good karma into the area where I live.

Most of the journals I make are metric sizes where I fold and cut larger sheets of paper into smaller folios – as a result there is no wastage, occasionally though I do end up with odd sized sheets of paper on my bench.  I turn these into smaller books where I might practise different sewings.  One of my favourite notebooks is a Moleskine cahier notebook copy where the covers are old cardboard cereal boxes, and the demonstration books from my workshops soon grow in number.

I have now started packaging these books up with a little note explaining that they are gifts and include my business card. I was out and about in Busselton on Wednesday delivering my artist’s book for the Signature South West exhibition and left a few journals and notebooks around town.

On Thursday morning I had a phone call from a lady who had picked up one of the notebooks – she had a particularly trying morning and could not quite believe that it was a purely philanthropic gesture.  Her happiness and pleasure in such a small gesture and that she took the trouble to phone and thank me, has made my week and reinforced my will to carry on with this project.

If you are out and about in my little corner of the world – keep your eyes open – you may find your own little package.  It helps if you know my habits!!!!!!

Road trip

A dwindling paper supply (for book covers) and some upcoming workshops sent me on a little road trip the other day. We are very fortunate to have a couple not too far away (about 100klms) who import papers direct from India.  They travel around the craft fairs and markets in their old school minibus and sell a selection of papers cut down to manageable size for those who enjoy scrap booking and also a treasure trove of braids, yarns, decorations and blingy bits.  Look them up at http://www.halcyonsteppe.com. After a very pleasant chat and comparatively  restrained selection of paper I set off home on a slightly different route and stopped off at Glen Mervyn Dam – a local ski spot that I have never visited before.  It was very peaceful yesterday and I had a mooch around the shoreline and a chat with a couple of ducks who were playing at the water’s edge.  The leaves and debris at the waterline struck me as being very similar to the colours and patterns on the eco printed paper from my last post.  On the way back to the car I nearly trod on this little treasure – a fungi that has long since given up its spores to the environment – loving the texture and colours.

debris at the shoreline - Glen Mervyn Dam

debris at the shoreline – Glen Mervyn Dam

Glen Mervyn Dam

Glen Mervyn Dam

fungi - I think this is what is commonly known as a puffball - that has expressed its spores leaving the weathered shell

fungi – I think this is what is commonly known as a puffball – that has expressed its spores leaving the weathered shell

Mid Winter – a time for pampering yourself

Here in the South West of Australia the weather has been very wet and stormy for the past couple of weeks.  We really need the rainfall here as the last few winters have been very dry – just down the paddock from our house there is a creek which used to flow every winter but it has been dry for the past 5 years.  Last weekend it flowed – hurray!!  Unfortunately for some though there were streams and rivers that broke their banks and friends have lost pumps, newly planted trees and some infrastructure.  One bridge a little further south from here can’t be fixed until the spring weather comes along and that means very long road trips for residents in that area to get to town.

These wet, winter days are a great opportunity to take a little time to pamper yourself – read a book, take up that knitting, crochet or paintbrush – take care of yourself with a long soak in the bath.  Folios and Fibre has teamed up with Handmade and Marina – these little spa pamper kits consist of a beautifully soft cotton crocheted wash cloth and a bar of lovingly created handmade soap.  Enjoy!

Pamper kit - Hand crocheted soft cotton spa wash cloth teamed with handmade soap $18

Pamper kit – Hand crocheted soft cotton spa wash cloth teamed with handmade soap $18

The tyranny (or not) of distance!

Yesterday, after wading through rivers of water during the storm at 5.30am to put our horses out into their paddock (they were most indignant at being woken at that hour and very reluctant to join me in wading!) I set off for a cross country drive to Narrogin in the heart of the West Australian wheat growing area.  Narrogin is a country town, some three hours drive from our capital city of Perth.  The drive was very pleasant, the weather being kind to me, there were only a few sprinkles of rain on the windscreen.  The paddocks are all looking green after recent rainfall.  I arrived in the town with plenty of time before the workshop started and was pleasantly surprised to find a coffee shop open at that time of day.  The coffee was good and the roaring fire was very welcoming.

It was easy to find the venue for the workshop in Narrogin’s main street.  The Artspace is a wonderfully welcoming, large space  and ideal to hold any workshop, also a great meeting place.  I understand ARtS Narrogin is run by volunteers and they are planning all sorts of exciting events – the Ten Sopranos will be performing in Narrogin on Wednesday – if you live in the area check out their FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/ARtSNarrogin.

I had a fabulous day teaching lots of simple book structures – using some recycled items, and shared lots more ideas.  Some of the workshop participants had travelled a considerable distance to attend and I think they all had a good time – they worked really hard and produced a considerable collection of books during the day.

Despite being a considerable distance from the capital city and having limited access to art supplies Narrogin has an artspace and organisation to be proud of, and lots of enthusiastic and very talented people.  I love rural Western Australia.

working hard in Artspace Narrogin

working hard in Artspace Narrogin

The fantastic work space at ARtS Narrogin

The fantastic work space at ARtS Narrogin

making mini books for necklaces

making mini books for necklaces

Keeping it local

You may have heard of the idea of slow food – the idea of eating food that has been grown locally and is in season – something that has not travelled halfway around the country or the world before it gets to you.  Take that idea a little further into cloth and clothing, this is what my friend Marina from http://handmadeandmarina.wordpress.com has been doing recently.  Marina has sourced Merino fleece from sheep living in Burekup – a small town near Bunbury – and has spun that fleece into yarn, then woven it on her backstrap loom into fabric.

I am lucky enough to have some of that fabric at Folios and Fibre – beautiful hand woven scarves, natural in colour, one with lanolin still in it – the other has been washed a little more and is beautifully soft.  Something really special for a gift, or treat yourself to one to keep the cold at bay on these chilly mornings.  These are one of a kind – take a long time from fleece to fabric – I feel very fortunate to have them in the gallery.

Beautiful hand spun, hand woven south west western australia merino wool scarf $48 - by handmade and marina

Beautiful hand spun, hand woven south west western australia merino wool scarf $48 – by handmade and marina


hand spun, hand woven merino scarf - detail - by handmade and marina

hand spun, hand woven merino scarf – detail – by handmade and marina