Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Left or right brain?

I was interested to see this test, as I work with both sides of my brain.

Readers are asked to study the graphic and then read out the colour, not the word. The difficulty in performing the task is down to the fact that while your right brain will try to say the colour, your left brain will be more inclined to say the word. Aim to complete the test in less than a minute.

If you can complete this test easily then the right side of your brain is dominant. If you find it hard you're a left brainer.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
acknowledges and appreciates
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (ie. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

My right brain rules - what about you?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em....a rant

My goal for 2008 as far as my art is concerned is "to get my art out there". Yes, I know I'm repeating myself, but if I say it often enough, I may actually DO it. In order to get that happening, I need to devise ways of framing/finishing/presenting it so it can be displayed along with other art. I already know how to finish a quilt for a quilt show - what I want to do is have my work alongside ORDINARY art -no offence intended to painters here.

The biggest hurdle we art quilters/ fabric artists /textile artists /mixed media artists (take your pick) face is that art made from fabric does NOT get the same respect or sale prices as paint on a canvas. This is not confined to New Zealand - I have seen passionate discussions on international mailing lists saying the same thing. The buying public have a mindset that quilts (and therefore fabric arts) are a "craft" and therefore of low value. Or is it that they are just not used to seeing quilting and fabric as art? The old dears at the local quilting guild don't help this any, with their scandalized comments about prices charged on quilts for sale at quilt shows. This all devalues the worth of what we do. Also it makes me mad.

What is the difference between paint on canvas and paint on fabric? Where there's excellent design, use of colour, technique and so on, why should one be worth more than the other?

Working on the philosophy of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", I am going to present my art in the same way as painters do - the big names in art quilts are already doing this (I am a late starter in most things) , and it seems to get around the problem to a large degree. I'm hoping this DVD from Jane Dunnewold ( will help - I haven't watched it yet, but it says on the back "This how-to guide is perfect for anyone who wants to choose the right finish or frame for any work of art". It's aimed at fabric panels, mixed media artwork and everything inbetween. I'll let you know how i get on.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I started back at work this week, although I don't officially take over the business till 1st February. Of course, in my line of work, working does not automatically = earning money.

I haven't really worked for 5 months, so it's both exciting and exhausting. I will have around 300 customers, and should really try to meet them all, but I don't think this is logistically possible. As a result, my focus is now on making a living and developing the business, so the creative side has to go back to being a weekend activity.
As part of my plan to for 2008 to get my art "out there" (wherever THERE may be), I've dug out some UFOs (UnFinished Objects) which I'll concentrate on completing. Above is "Look Left, Look Right" (top only, unquilted).
Can't remember what I called this one. It's all quilted but needs binding. I love the quilting design on this - click on the photo for a closer look. This is a favourite piece I painted while my ankle was broken. This was when I first started to do "cutouts". It is also an unquilted top.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What is it?

I have no self-control, so I won't make you wait till tomorrow for the answer. In case you're the same!

"I am not deigning to look at the camera, Human. You should be averting your eyes as you gaze upon my magnificence. Or at least, my magnificent bouffy hairdo.""

Cressy after a visit to Groomingdales (dontcha love that name?). I love the smell of the shampoo they use, and their shaved muzzles are soooooooooooooooooo soft and velvety. White poodles have black skin on their muzzles, but it's pink in most other places.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

On the needles

This is actually more "off the hook"! This is my 3-D crocheted vessel.
I have finally finished the long rib-and-cable section of this cardigan. Now I'm starting to pick up the arm stitches to knit the sleeves the same way. This merino 4 ply knits up beautifully. But I got a bit bored with just knitting this pattern, so I started this:
Another cardigan! They're trendy now - for many years I considered cardies to be the pastel Bri-Nylon things my mother wore, and wouldn't have a bar of them. Now, I think they're great! And there are so many lovely modern patterns. This is an interesting lace design from Just One More Row (sorry, can't make a link work at present) - the curved bit is the right front, and this is brushed wool that I found at the op shop - 8 balls for $10. I blame Melody Johnson of Fibremania (have a look here - scroll down to December 15th) - this is another pattern I saw on Melody's blog and just had to have. I don't think she's made the pattern I'm using, but there are other great patterns on the site.

And this is a few agapanthus and gladioli from my garden.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Several readers have asked me to review this book, so here goes.

I am not familiar with the author Susan Stein but I see that she has been quilting for many years, has a quilt store and takes classes. I bought the book because I liked the look of the artwork on the cover, and the fact that the book covered a wide range of techniques for art quilting.

Best things about it :-
: the techniques were well illustrated and amny showed four different ways of applying them.
: a very wide range is covered, some of which you don't find elsewhere such as making fabric beads, burned edge appliqué, distressed felt, rust dyeing, doing stuff with silk cocoons and the like.
: some very appealing discharge work and fabric collage

Worst things about it:-
:no real criticisms except that I am already familiar with many of the techniques

Overall appraisal : I'm still happy to have bought this book despite the above comment. It's easy to follow, has lots of ideas, and brings a host of things for art quilters together in one place. Many surface design books concentrate on putting your mark onto the fabric but not with what happens next. This book goes that little bit further.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Phew! it's hot

For those of you getting through winter, I'd just like to mention that it's mid-summer here and quite frankly, it's STINKING HOT at present. Yesterday was 34C (which is 93F for American readers), today is slightly cooler but tomorrow will be about the same as yesterday. I've had to put water on some plants during the day just to enable them to get through the heat of the day before I do a proper evening watering.
It's really too hot to spend much time upstairs doing any artwork. I'm interested that quite a few readers have said they thought the Elvish Door looks fine as it is - maybe I'll just do some stitching on it but no more surface design.

Here's some mid-summer garden photos.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cutout part 2 - The Elvish Door

(click on the photo for a closer view)
Interestingly, when I came to write on this, I did it the other way up - in the earlier photo, the greenish part is at the top. I didn't notice until I'd finished, but decided I like it this way anyway. The words are in both Elvish and English and wander all over the place - it's not my intention that people should actually stand in front of it and read them.
There's no writing on the frame nor on the verticals - it may not be apparent, but the cutout in in 4 "panels", and each one has a different design.

Now I have to think about what to do next - this is by no means finished.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Farewell - Sir Edmund Hillary

A New Zealand icon, Sir Edmund Hillary, has today died at the age of 88. Best known for his conquest of Mt Everest in 1953, Sir Ed was the most well-known and admired Kiwi of our time. You can read more about his life and work here. He epitomised the quintessential "ordinary Kiwi bloke" and is immortalised on our $5 note.


This is the finished cutout that I showed you in drawing form on Monday. I've just cut bits of it at a time, as it's time consuming and fiddly. originally I had intended to place it over one of the monoprinted pieces, but decided these were too pretty to cover up. So I found a piece of my Blended fabric that I didn't particularly like in the piece, but which had some interesting colour changes, and fused it to that.

Now to decide what to do from here! Any brilliant suggestions are welcomed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Still relaxing

I am still in Relaxed Mode, until next week when I get into partial Work Mode. Relaxed Mode is wonderful, but unfortunately does not contain any money. Nevertheless, I..err...the Evil Twin I mean....has been bending the plastic at Amazon. This arrived today.

While much of what's in here can be found in other books I have, I always find there's some idea or technique that I hadn't come across or thought of. I am going to be very busy come 1st February - the date I take over my new business - so now is a good time to play around.

I'm off to give blood this afternoon, so a good book or 2 to look at when I get home is called for. I never feel very good after donating blood, but I do it because of Roxy. She needed blood products of all kinds while she was sick - red cells, white cells, platelets and whole blood, depending on her condition at the time - and I really appreciated all the people who had donated blood that she used. I do urge anyone reading this who is in good health and not already a donor to consider becoming one. It could be you or a loved one who needs it next.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Go ahead, make my day!

Both Teri and Sandra have given me this award - aw shucks! Here’s what the guidelines for this award say: "Give the award to up to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel so happy about Blogland! Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so that they can pass it on. Beware! You may get the award several times!"

So here are MY awards - in no particular order. If I omitted your blog, it's not that I don't enjoy reading it - just that I have a limit of 10 awards to give out. And there are also blogs I read every day, like Yarn Harlot and Crazy Aunt Purl, which are hugely popular and get hundreds of comments, but I don't have a personal relationship with them, so they're not included.

So here goes - you make my day!

Kirsty of Two Lime Leaves - I had the pleasure of meeting Kirsty at the 2007 Quilting Symposium -how does this girl manage to be so funny? And so clever?

Deb of Red Shoe Ramblings - We haven't met but I know we'd get on like a house on fire if we did. Deb does wonderful photography, as well as being clever and funny.

Dijanne Cevaal, who sounds very foreign but is an Aussie. I took one of her dyeing classes in 1999. Her work is so visually delightful.

Suzi-K, who now lives in South Africa. A lovely person, generous with her comments, whose blog is filled with photos and always interesting to read.

Emmy from the Netherlands, who does amazing embroidery and felting.

Lynda aka Purple Missus - don't sit still around this girl, or she'll find some way of embellishing you! Always something new on her blog.

Melody from Fibermania. I don't read Melody's blog every day, just now and then, but she has a wonderful eye for colour and composition, and has been an inspiration to me in my work. Plus she knits wonderful patterns that I then HAVE to buy!

Margaret aka Digital Gran. No winding down for this girl, she's into all sorts of stuff including being part of Fibre & Stitch.

Francoise from Belgium - wonderful creative work, both digital and in real life.

Terry Grant, another lady who's into all sorts of things and always generous with her comments.

Even if you didn't get named, thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my blog, and especially those who leave comments. I appreciate you all. I'll leave you with a dyeing clothesline photo:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ice Dyeing part 2

After washing, drying and ironing the pieces from the previous day, I held each piece up by the top and bunched them in a roughly gathered fashion (eg not folded), then wound them loosely into a ball like a pinwheel. Then I once again placed them in a plastic bag, this time adding a cup of soda ash to each bag and ensuring the fabric was dampened through. Then I put them in the freezer overnight. Here they are when I removed them the next day.

This time, I just squirted a quantity of dye over the outside of the frozen ball - Navy for the blue one, and Warm Black for the brown one. Then I batched them and washed them in the normal way. These are the results - I like the brown one better as there's more contrast. My conclusion? A lot more time-consuming, and I can probably get much the same result without ice, but fun to play around with , particularly the over-dyeing.

It was all too much for Seven, who had to go and have a rest out on the deck.

Ice Dyeing part 1

There's been some discussion on one of my email lists about ice dyeing, so I decided to give it a try. I took 2 one metre (yard) lengths of plain fabric, soaked them in hot water, then scrunched them up and placed them in plastic bags in the freezer. I didn't soak them in soda ash as the others had done, for no other reason than I had none made up and couldn't be bothered. Here's the first piece, in its frozen ball. I've used Coffee, Burgundy and Golden Yellow. This is the underside - you can see the ice lump on it.
And here's the second piece. I used Turquoise (because I knew it doesn't like the cold, and wanted to see what it'd do), Cobalt Blue and Violet. As the fabric thawed, I added more dye to the white areas.
Here they are sitting in their trays, now with soda ash added.

The results however, were disappointing - both pieces came out quite bland in their colouring, with no interesting pattern at all. They were in fact less interesting than ordinary tray dyeing. However, some of that was no doubt a result of a) not soda soaking upfront - this lessens the dye strike to some degree; and b) adding more dye as the fabric defrosted. However, rather than consign the results to the "not very interesting" fabric pile, I decided to repeat the experiment on the same pieces of fabric but doing it differently.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What I did over the holidays

Did you have to write stories on that topic when you were a youngster at school? I did. Anyway, here's some far more interesting stuff that I've been doing over the holidays.

I crocheted this throw for the settee. It's a combination of granny squares in multicoloured yarn bordered and joined together with an open lattice of eyelash-type yarn. The poodle came ready made, so is not included in my achievements. I've had an interest in 3-D knitting and crochet for some time (so not only quilted vessels!). This is a mug-sized crocheted container worked over a polyester cord. A work in progress. The wool is my own hand painted stuff.
And this is the drawing on Vliesofix that I've made of the "grid" that I'm thinking of putting over one of the monoprinted works. The fabric this is ironed onto is a multi-hued green. If it doesn't suit, I'll use a different backing. You can see that I've made start on cutting the sections out, but it's a big task - this is 16" x 18", so it's a fiddly job and not one I want to do much of at any time, particularly when it's hot upstairs.

I've also been experimenting with ice dyeing - photos and commentary to come in the next couple of days.

Friday, January 04, 2008

How to print photos onto fabric

There's been quite a bit of interest in my last post, so I thought I'd provide some more information. This is not a guaranteed washproof method, but as I'm not making items that will be washed, I haven't worried about that. A friend who makes her own quilt labels soaks the fabric first in fabric softener and lets it dry before printing. This seemed too much trouble for me, so I devised my own method of printing.

Firstly, I'm using an HP Deskjet printer, which uses ink. I'm not sure how this would work with a laser printer, so someone could try that out and let me know.

I cut a piece of heavyweight iron-on Vilene (stiffening or interfacing, such is used in dressmaking) to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. This is the size that fits my printer. Then I iron it to the back of the fabric I want to use, and cut to fit. I use only the one piece of fabric in the printer's feeder tray at a time. Then using the software that comes with my printer, I select how I want the photos to print - normally a full page - and then print from there. Once the print is dry, I can remove the Vilene backing - this can be used several times, as long as it still adheres satisfactorily.

And so there's some photographic content, here's Cass with his lovely girlfriend Hattie. She has just left for Spain, where she'll be doing 2 language papers as part of her Law/Arts degree, and she'll be away for 7 weeks! He is missing her already.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

And now for something completely different...

I took THIS photo of Sophie and Erlo...and printed it onto some dyed fabric. This was A4 size due to the constraints of fitting into my printer.
Then I added Vliesofix (Wonder Under) to the edges, and covered a small notebook, which I then gave to Sophie.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Stamping the monoprints

I made these little stamps from foam meat trays. The designs are taken from Easter Island hieroglyphics, and are perfect for people like me who can't draw - just simple shapes and lines.
These are the monoprinted pieces of fabric that I decide to work with. They've had a plain colour washed over the monoprinted designs.
I was using mainly pearlescent and metallic paints for stamping. I was entranced at how lovely the stamps became as the colours mixed. Interestingly, the designs that I thought looked best did not necessarily make good stamps.

I stamped each piece of fabric with 3 to 5 stamps, quite randomly as to placement and colours. Then after heat fixing the paints, I drew sketches of how I would put together 16" x 18" pieces, using (finished size) 2", 4" and 6" squares. The 2 designs are different.
This one has 4 x 6" squares, 5 x 4" squares and 16 x 2" squares....
...while this one has 3 x 6" squares, 7 x 4" squares and 17 x 2' squares. I actually made this one to be taller than it is wide, as below. I like the nine-patch stamping to be in top left corner like so :
(same photo, turned around).

Which version you do think is best?

It's 2008!

I fully expect 2008 to be a much better year than 2007 for me, and I hope it's the same for my readers. Here are some photos of when I was monoprinting on Christmas Day. I spread thickened dye onto a plastic "board" using a comb, as I liked the effect this created.

Then I placed a piece of fabric over the plastic and smoothed it down.
The result! I let the pieces dry, then used the leftover dyes as backgrounds to fill in the white bits. These are what I'm going to be playing with today.