This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Opua Arts Studio and Gallery Last Days

About a year and a half ago I became an art gallery owner.  It wasn't something I'd ever wanted to be, but it was a way for me to get a studio space close to my home (boat) and form closer connections to the local art community, so I took the opportunity and jumped in wholeheartedly.

The view from upstairs in my studio.
I had the use of a commercial office space while it had no tenant, but now, I'm very sad to report, my landlords have found a permanent commercial tenant.  That means that Opua Arts is no longer as of 31 October 2016.  The landlords have been great, and they wrote me the nicest notice of termination that I've ever received.

I considered making a little voodoo doll of the new tenant when I first received the news.  The thought of using the doll as a pincushion was very appealing!  And the worry about where I would work was a bit overwhelming.  But in truth, I've been expecting the news ever since I moved in.  It's a gorgeous space and Opua is an up and coming area with a new Marina expansion in progress and a general upturn of the Northland economy.

So then I got to accepting the idea.  And do you know what really made me accept it?  My electric jug died.  Isn't it weird how a little thing like that can change your perception?  My jug (or kettle if you like) was given to me when I moved into the studio and I realised I'd need to make cups of tea.  Mathea, a fellow textile artist, gave me her spare one from when she had a studio.

It started playing up right around the time I got the news.  I'd switch it on and it wouldn't go.  I'd jiggle the connections and it would come right.  It got worse and worse and it got me realising how maybe the jug was done.  And that got me thinking about how maybe I was done.  Maybe this was a sign that all good things come to an end and it was time for something new.

I've had fun in the studio and gallery.  I've enjoyed curating exhibitions.  I've met wonderful people at my weekly stitch and bitch sessions.  And I've learnt so, so much.  But it's time to move on.  Now that I'm over the disappointment, I'm really looking forward to having a break from the gallery work and being able to concentrate solely on my artwork.

Memories of Flight by Charlotte Scott
And I've found a new studio space too!  More on that in my next post.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Thoughts on Teaching

Last week I finished running a class making my Aotearoa Tote bag.  I ran the class over two weeks, with two sessions of 3 and a half hours.  My participants were members of my local guild, so we went out for lunch afterwards - a really nice way to end an intense sewing session!

This is my sample bag that I worked on during class to demonstrate.
Teaching is such a great reminder of how differently our individual brains work.  My class utilises a positive/negative appliqué technique.  It generates two usable appliqués from the one cut.  It sounds simple written down, but when you have to explain it, and the students are trying to figure out colour placements as well, it can get a bit mind bending.  And for some more than others.

These are Jane's bag panels.  Love her colours.
Our brains are just wired so uniquely and it's endlessly fascinating.  My husband can see spatial relationships in a room in a way I just can't, but colour and pattern are just not his forte.  Some experienced quilters need time and quite a few explanations to get the technique, and some beginners just intuitively understand.  I have to come up with different ways to explain it if someone doesn't understand the first way, so it's great for my brain as well.  I always learn something.

Beryl is giving circular quilting a go.  Another gorgeous colour scheme.
In this class, we all got there one way or another.  The participants assured me they had fun and learned something new.  What was particularly satisfying for me was that all of them tried quilting methods that put them out of their comfort zones.

Anne, trimming up her panel.  Anne tried FMQ for the first time!  So cool!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Interview with Annie White - Podcast

Annie with her Klimt Kiss quilt.
I first met Annie White at a workshop in Auckland.  It was run by Hollis Chatelain and Annie, her sister Mary, and I were attending to learn how to paint on fabric with thickened dyes.  I've met Annie again several times and watched her quilting star rise, so it was lovely to have a good chat with her about her unusual quilts, her creative practice and how she fits quilting into a busy life as a teacher librarian.

Annie professes to getting bored easily and wanting to try many different techniques.  Her white textured quilts (above is 'Korowai Ma' and you can read more about the making of it here) show a willingness to take risks and experiment with shape and form till she gets it right.

This photo shows the underside of the petals of 'Korowai Ma'.  You can see the multicoloured fabric and the cording that we talk about in the podcast.

You can see Annie's first white quilt called 'White on White' here, as a prizewinner at the Auckland Festival of Quilts 2013.

Annie has a blog that she shares with her sister, Mary, called Two Sewing Sisters.  She writes here about her processes and about her life, although she admits to finding it difficult to update regularly with her busy working schedule.  If you head on over, you will find more photographs of the quilts we talk about, such as 'Songlines', Annie's quilt that was selected for the travelling textile exhibition, 'A Matter of Time', curated by Brenda Gael Smith

Annie also had a work selected for the previous exhibition curated by Brenda, called 'Living Colour'. This work was titled 'Unfurling'.

Annie has also had work in the Dorothy Collard Challenge run by The Auckland Quilt Guild, and you can see her prize winning quilts here and here.

It was a pleasure to talk to Annie about her life here in New Zealand, her connections to Australia and how she translates her stories into fabric and thread.  I hope you enjoy listening.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Aotearoa Tote Bag Class

It's Spring time here and I feel like coming out of hibernation.  So to ramp things up a bit, I've decided to run a bag making class at Opua Arts Studio and Gallery.

My Aotearoa Tote is fairly straightforward if you have a bit of appliqué and quilting experience, but you'll learn a great positive/negative appliqué method and lots of tips on binding and quilting to make the whole thing come together smoothly.

Here's the ad I've written up:
Want to learn how to make your own Aotearoa Tote? I am running a class at Opua Arts so you can learn how. October 12th and 19th (Wednesday mornings), 9am till 12.30pm. 
Your own sewing machine and some basic sewing, quilting and appliqué skills required. $60 pp.
This is a project-based class where you will learn the ins and outs of positive/negative appliqué and come away with a funky New Zealand styled tote bag to show off!
This class includes machine quilting and binding, so plenty of tips and tricks are included to help you get great results with these skills.
Different applique designs will be available for the bag sides so you can customise your layout, and a full written pattern is included in the cost.
Students will need to provide their own fabrics and materials. A needs list will be provided on receipt of a deposit of $20.

What I like about this bag is how customisable it is.  Students get to pick their own mix and match of patterns.  And they can make them simple or trickier depending on how long they want to spend appliqueing. 

So, get in touch if you want to make your own eye-catching version of this bag.  I'm looking forward to seeing some different colour ways and pattern choices!

Friday, September 2, 2016

100 Days Project 10%

I wrote recently about starting a 100 Days Project.  Luckily there was a group and a website and someone had done all the thinking and all I had to do was sign up and join in.  We are now onto our tenth day, which means we are a 10% through the process.  Put another way, I've got 90% more to do!

So how am I feeling about it?  I wrote a little summary of how I've been feeling day to day.  I'm wondering how I'll feel at day 50.

Day One - nervous and excited, so much to live up to!
Day Two - well that was easy, too easy perhaps?
Day Three - this isn't so bad, but am I getting anywhere?
Day Four - Ick, what a stuff up, now I'm nervous again.
Day Five - I think I'm onto something.
Day Six - I really like this.
Day Seven - I really LOVE this.
Day Eight - I've got so many ideas, I'm bubbling over!
Day Nine - how do I work on all these ideas?!

The photo above was day five.  That was a spread in my sketchbook with a silhouette cut from the edge of one page so it appeared on two page spreads.  It's the day that I felt I had a little breakthrough.

And today is Day Ten.  Today I'm wondering how I can spread out my ideas a little.  Can I work on the same face or quilt two days in a row?  Will I be cheating if I do that?  I've got so many ideas but some I want to work on more deeply than others.

Above is the spread of all my days so far.  Day four was a scary one, I felt like hiding it, but that wouldn't contribute to my process, so there it is in all its glory!

I'll share more in another while, but in the meantime if you want to follow my progress, this is the link to my project: