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!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sometimes you need simple...

I just read a quote on Deborah Boschert's blog today:
He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.—St. Francis

Deborah was talking about her workbook for developing your creative voice, called "Head, Heart and Hands".  I bought a digital downloadable copy for myself with the intention of starting work on it after my 100 days project is finished, I'll let you know how I find it.

Anyway.  The quote made me think about the sewing I did yesterday.  Sometimes you just need something to sew, something uncomplicated, something that just uses your hands, and maybe a bit of your head.  Something that will give satisfaction without any frustration.




At the recent Auckland Festival of Quilts, I bought a couple of half-metre cuts of Echino linen prints. I love Echino fabrics - a delightful mix of prints and colours.  I simply cut this piece in half, squared the pieces up and sewed them together into a tote bag.




For slightly more complexity and an increase in user-friendliness, I sewed it using enclosed seams.  Then I boxed out the bottom corners, added a simple outside pocket and lightly padded handles in a solid cotton fabric from my stash.  Done.  



Above is a snap of the bottom on the bag, inside out, so you can see the enclosed seams and the boxed corners.  

To sew enclosed seams, put the two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam round the three sides, clip the corners, turn inside out (RIGHT sides together) and press.  

Then sew another seam around the three sides, slightly larger than 1/4 inch and this will enclose your first seams.  

Now you can box your corners as in the photo above, add a double fold hem around the top edge, add your pocket and your handles.  

I enjoyed it so much, and loved the final product that I might just use the other piece of Echino in the same way.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Symposium Woes

The biennial national quilt symposium of New Zealand is the biggest deal in the quilting world down here and it's next happening in Christchurch October 2017.  They are calling themselves Creative Construction this time around - a nod to the immense rebuilding that has taken place in the city after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.




I'm planning to go.  I've been to four other symposiums and I wouldn't miss it.  It's such a buzz for anyone who loves quilts!  Five intense days of classes, lectures, exhibitions, get togethers - just lots and lots of fun.

I'm making the trip with a friend of mine who's never been before.  I did that last time too, and enjoyed introducing someone to the delights of symposium.  We've just booked our accommodation, so even though it's almost a year away, we're getting prepared.  If you've never been before, I wrote a post with tips and advice for attending - you might like to check it out for a few ideas.

My prizewinning quilt 'Tui at Dawn'.  I REALLY enjoyed symposium that year!

But now, here's my problem - the registration book comes out soon and I've been looking at the tutors online, thinking about who I'd like to study with and what sort of classes I'd like to take.  And I'm blown away by the choice.  It seems like someone picked my brain for all the people I'd love to study with and invited them to attend.  It's going to be too hard to choose!

There are two five-day masterclasses this year.  One that particularly interests me is Lisa Call's 'Working in a Series'.  Lisa was my amazing SAQA mentor and I'd love to extend the learning I did under her guidance and I've always looked at this class thinking I'd like to do it.  But that's five whole days, and one of my own tips is to leave a day or two to see the exhibitions, rest and catch up with friends.  Arrghh!

My friend Shirley catching up at the Symposium Dinner.  Shirley is one of the most wonderful supportive quilters I know.

Then there are the international tutors who I might never get another chance to study with:
Jane Dunnewold - yes, I said JANE DUNNEWOLD, the queen of complex cloth is coming!
Luke Haynes - who I follow on Instagram and am intrigued by his work in series;
Jacquie Gering, whose walking foot quilting class on Craftsy really changed the way I use a walking foot;
Lyric Kinard, whose book 'Art + Quilt' was one of the first art quilting books I ever read;
Charlotte Yde - her work is just stunning, and thoughtful and intriguing;
Sherri Lyn Wood, I love her book (that I reviewed recently) and the thoughts behind her process.

And that's just the international tutors that interest me (there's more too) - there's exciting Australian (funny that they don't count as international, but I get the distinction!) and New Zealand tutors too.

It's too much!  How am I ever going to decide?

So tell me, are you going to symposium next year?  What tutors are you interested in?  And how are you going to decide what classes to take?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My New Kettle (and Studio)

Following on from my last post, when I heard the news that I no longer had a studio, I wallowed for a little while, then I put the problem out to the universe.  I asked friends and family for ideas and help, and the discussions that followed pushed me to think about what I really would like in a studio if I could have anything I wanted.

The list was long!  It included: water, power, space, light, storage and all the other things artists usually want.  But it also included security of tenure.  I wanted to be somewhere that I wasn't at the whim of other people's decisions.

I had some amazing offers and I want to thank those people, it was humbling to know people wanted me in their spaces, but my husband and I came up with an alternative solution that really ticks our boxes.

A nice sunny spot that's all mine! The curtains are up because the carpets were being cleaned.

We own a rental property a couple of minutes drive from our boat and it has a small flat downstairs.  The woman who had been renting it bought a house so she was moving out.  Then we sold our old house where we lived before we moved onto the boat (yay!).  We stored our furniture in a shed there when we moved aboard - now we would have to rent a storage unit for it.  And our rental property needs some serious maintenance work to the gardens.

So the plan came together like this:  We would take the bottom flat for ourselves, using our stored belongings to furnish it.  It would be my studio, our storage facility, our landside base if we ever wanted to get off the boat (storms, pulling the boat out of the water for anti-fouling etc) and we could also put wwoofers or Helpxer's in to help with the gardens and work on the boat - it always needs sanding and painting in one spot or another!  The best thing about the place is that we own it, nobody can kick me out and I can make as much creative chaos as I like!

There's a little bedroom, bathroom and laundry down the hall.

I'm getting excited about it now.  I wasn't, purely because I've spent several weekends shifting out of the studio and our furniture out of the shed, and the last thing I wanted to do was to shift it all back in again!  But I've taken a week off while I wait to get the carpets professionally cleaned and now I'm rearing to go again.

And I bought a new jug....


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!