Monday 28 February 2011

leafy sea dragon festival

'Colours of Home' is a community-based arts project* for the 2011 Leafy Sea Dragon Festival at Yankalilla in South Australia. 

on March 26 + 27  i will be giving two one-day silk dyeing workshops demonstrating the ecoprint bundling technique. we'll be working together on large pieces of silk producing a series of big silk flags for installation during the festival.

[kind volunteers have been hemming flags in preparation for this feast of dyeing]

throughout the following five days participants will be able to bring to the studio natural materials [leaves, bark, seaweed, flowers and so forth] collected from their own immediate environment [ie garden...although this could as easily be your favourite park or beach]. 

each person will be given two pieces of silk to dye [and will come in on the weekday of their choice, to be negotiated by them with me during their first workshop]. i'll try and accommodate those who are in daytime employment by scheduling a couple of evening sessions as well. 

one piece of silk will be yours to keep, the other [you choose which one] will become part of a pieced stitched textile that we'll be putting together through the beautiful connecting process of the sewing circle over the final two days of the project on the weekend of April 1 + 2.

the flags we dye will be positioned through the community during the Leafy Sea Dragon Festival that runs from April 15-24 

The workshops run from 26 March to 3 April 2011. At the time this post was uploaded there were still a few places left...if you are interested in participating phone Karen on 08 8558 2728

* funded by Festivals Australia

and if you want to know what a leafy seadragon looks like, click here

Sunday 27 February 2011

subtraction cutting with Julian Roberts

Julian Roberts has taught 6 workshops in Australia this week
during which time students have made 160 garments 
[and Julian himself has made 6 - one in each class]

i'm a bit slow with stitching
and it took me two full days to finish my dress
and stitch in a lining

when i finished it
i gave it to my friend Marion
i was very pleased
it fits her even though i didn't measure her
when cutting it out

it's made of velvet and silk organza
and dyed with a bucket full of foresty things
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somewhere else

i'm in Melbourne
attending a Julian Roberts subtraction cutting workshop

at Beautiful Silks in Fitzroy
brilliant stuff

one of the bits i subtracted from my cloth

wandering on my way into class yesterday
i stumbled through the South Melbourne market
where i found a bunch of

which of course reminded me of the time my family spent living by a lake in Vermont, i had to buy them

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Christchurch earthquake - and a kind of silent auction [and giveaway]

some of you may have observed i have a soft spot for New Zealand.

these are dark times

the people of Christchurch have been getting the rough end of the stick. not only the big earthquake last year but also nearly a thousand aftershocks since
and then another big one yesterday

so as my way of helping i'm running a kind of silent auction. i'll give an ecoprint Milkymerino TM travel blanket [retail value about $750] to the person [anywhere in the whirled] who makes the highest donation to a NZ earthquake charity by the ides of March.

email the proof of your donation [in the form of an official receipt or photographic copy thereof]

along with your name and mailing address


here's a link to the Salvos

and to the Red Cross

[but you can donate via whomever you wish]

and to make it fair for those who can only donate modestly, i'll throw in a lucky dip and do a random draw from the receipts as well the blanket giveaway..someone will get a mystery parcel

Sunday 20 February 2011

carbon credits

in view of the fact i fly about a lot
i thought i had better do something to compensate again
in truth, i don't even need an excuse to invest in trees
while i'm perfectly capable of propagating them from seed
sometimes it's nice to have something a little bigger
so today i did my favourite kind of shopping
at the native nursery in Belair National Park

doesn't look like much, being tubestock, but they'll do.

the collection includes Eucalyptus - pulverulenta, gillii, wandoo, crenulata, cordata and nichollii
also some anigozanthos [kangaroo paw], two species of santalum [sandalwood and quandong]
and a purple-leaved form of Agonis flexuosa
somewhere in there are also two small myoporum plants to host the santalums [the latter are parasitical]
a very fine lot indeed

while rummaging about on my desk for something else entirely
i found a few bundles that i had cooked before leaving for NZ
so as to have a present to unwrap on my return
[my students will all recognise this habit - so important, i think, to have a present to unwrap on each morning of class]. just like a squirrel hiding nuts i'd forgotten this lot.
funny thing is, green is supposed to be the hardest colour to dye naturally....not if you dye in bundles.
the other good thing [besides the general happiness] is how little plant material is needed compared to the traditional 1:1 Weight of Goods to Weight of Plant Material ratio

Friday 18 February 2011

just for the record

it's a tricky business, making a living as an artist. many of us have to wait tables and wash dishes at some point just to keep body and soul together. i have taught school [paid and also unpaid], painted scarves for the tourist trade, cleaned hotel rooms [nasty] and worked in dress stores [strangely entertaining]. i have driven exhibition trucks and toured art [made by others] to remote corners of the state.
that was then.

now i am in the fortunate position of being able to juggle teaching [mostly adults who actually want to learn and don't need me to engage my best theatrical skills in order to secure their attention], writing [the odd commissioned texts for set fees as well as the more rewarding sole author trips ie Eco Colour and the soon-to-be-unleashed Second Skin] and exhibiting. sometimes  if i am lucky i have the time to make a few dresses and in between i am grateful to Leigh Warren for offering me costume work.

this is not a hobby. it is my life and my profession. it supports not only me but also three children, 6 rescue cats, 5 elderly horses, a wind-dumped parrot and several bunnies. one day i hope that list will again include a Border Collie or two.
yes, i do get to travel to interesting places...but no, mostly being crammed into cattle class for long flights isn't a great deal of fun [even with gin and hours of stitching]. it's getting harder to bounce back after those long flights so i have to schedule a recovery/adjustment day after each one.
yes, i amass flyer points and sorry folks, i do insist on flying [as far as possible] with Qantas. loyalty pays off and call me old-fashioned but i like to think that the pilots know what they are doing. if the wings fall off they'll calmly deal with it, rather than screaming and leaping for the nearest parachute. so no, i won't fly with the cheapest airline just to save a few pennies.

it all sounds very exotic but lining up the ducks is not so easy as it seems.
i really don't know what artists did before credit cards were invented. maybe it's why some of them cut off their ears. think about it. in order to fulfill my commitments i usually have to organise and pay for my flights in advance. this year i have one European trip, three trans-Pacific flights and have just put some weeks in NZ behind me. in between there are several gigs in Australia. unless i personally take bookings from students [in which case, thank you dear friends, there is cash in the kitty] i am paid at the end of an engagement. sometimes the cheque doesn't arrive until a month or two after.
administration is not my forte. recently i found a cheque in my travel kit that was over 6 months old and could no longer be presented to the bank. i'm still blushing with embarrassment.

i drive a fifteen-year-old car and don't buy new clothes [except for knickers and socks]. i don't go "on vacation". when at home i work seven days a week [admittedly because sitting around doing nothing ain't my gig]

anyway you look at it, this way of life requires a substantial turnover of $

the funny thing is, i can work as hard as i like and fill my year with a squillion trips but in the end, each year i net roughly the same amount of money once expenses have been taken into account. and it's frankly not enough to fund a pension plan so i'll probably still be tottering on to planes at 90, hoping someone out there is still interested in listening.

if you're still reading you may be wondering what my point is.

i'm trying to explain why i don't haggle, give discounts or sleep on couches [9 times out of 10 i find homestays involve interrogations over breakfast and dinner and by the time i get to class i am already worn out and can't remember what i was going to say].

these days when people start to quibble and mutter about my fees, i just back away. this is why i am not teaching in Belgium, Holland or Italy this year. it is also why i will be attempting to present a tri-lingual class in Switzerland and enthusiastically visiting Canada and the US several times and one of many reasons why i will continue to delightedly visit my beloved Aotearoa.

argue with me and i run. treat me as you would any other professional person [would you ask for discounts from your lawyer, dentist or car mechanic?] and i will respond by giving it my all and handing out chocolate against "day 4 syndrome"

and at the end of the day, Dogs willing and with a fair wind, i wouldn't want to be doing anything else. thanks folks. bless y'all.

Thursday 17 February 2011

spreading snottygobble

no i didn't make that up.
am having to provide lap to youngest grandchild
and so have been forced to knuckle down and work on the talk i am to give at ISEND2011
entitled 'Colours of the Red Island'

while researching various endemic natural dyes i found

Persoonia elliptica R.Br.
also known as Spreading Snottygobble

and for the curious
here's the grandchild

Wednesday 16 February 2011

heat, water and harakeke

most of the dye samples from Hotwater Beach weren't overly thrilling
after all the lava-heated springs only crank up to about 60 degrees C
and there are a scant couple of hours at low tide to immerse bundles
before the cold waves come rushing in again

the most exciting results in the short time there was available were from windfallen Harakeke
[aka New Zealand flax or Phormium tenax]

it's a most useful plant - the source of dyes, medicine and fibre
i found a whole plant washed up on the beach
suspect it might have been a plant found in a similar state
a long time ago
that first drew attention to the strong and flexible fibre inside its big green leaves

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Tuesday 15 February 2011

ka kite ano, Aotearoa [again]

i boarded a magic silver sardine in Westland
it took me to a cloudblanketed land
except being summer
the cloud was only there at the crack of dawn
the purpose of the journey was to make feltquilts
at Dairy Flat

bits of them looked a little like this

some of the leaves that found their way
into my pockets

we dyed some threads and yarns

and i took time to wander to a
favourite beach
where the lilies i struggle to keep alive in my garden
bloom on the sandhills
and waft their scent across the Pacific

and yes
i have a new app on the batfone
it stitches [yes, that's what it says]
images together [panorama for those who want to know]

in between playing with the scenery i
dug holes in the sand
and buried cloth in the hot water that bubbled up from the deep
more about that later

and i have a new friend
we are wearing matching outfits

Sunday 13 February 2011

thanks for being patient

i've been pootling about in the wilds of Aotearoa
where the interpixies are few and far between
am scribbling quickly on a machine that is not mine
hence no new pix [give me a few daze]

while there's nothing new to read here
you might like to swing over to the HandEye Blog
where Wendy Golden has a moving story to tell

Wednesday 2 February 2011

felt furoshiki and why i live to dye

rather a lot of pictures and all of the same piece
it began as a 'class sample' during the 
enfoldments retreat back in September

went on the to the fieldworks class in Brisbane
where it was my evening stitching amusement
and had its first immersion in the dyepot
using windfalls gathered on an early morning wandering
[that's where it picked up the darker purplish marks]

last week i bundled it up with some 
a favourite due to its rich spicy fragrance
the reason i'm so excited about this small piece
is that the leaves have printed quite different colours
where they cross fibres of different provenance
deep red on wool stitching
green across some of the silks [even though they are also protein fibres]
the whirled is full of marvellous mysteries 

miss martha doesn't give tuppence for any of this nonsense
she has better things to do

* this species is beloved of gardeners but endangered in its natural habitat...the Acheron Valley in Victoria 

Tuesday 1 February 2011

the home of the brave and the land of the free

i have a bit of a conundrum.

i'm trying to organize my visa for teaching in the US later this year. what should be a simple procedure has been made tricky because it's not ONE trip nor hosted by ONE organizer. [trouble is, i need to come home in between gigs to pay a few bills and remind my family of what they too will look like when they grow old]

the FAQ page of the US Embassy doesn't cover this eventuality and the delightful person who took my credit card details at 1800 687 844 [yes friends, you have to pay for advice regarding visas, AUD $12 a pop - not really begrudged; it's an effective way of sorting sheep from goats and tyre-kickers from the purposeful when you have a gazillion enquiries] didn't know the answer either although she said she would try to find someone who did

and that they would be in touch in a few days

trouble is
in a few days i might be in New Zealand
or the moon

i understand that you wouldn't want aliens taking work from honest citizens
but the paperwork is a tricksy beast

ah well, i shall put the whole thing into the lap of the dogs
they usually sort things for the best

and hey, if it all falls apart
there's always plenty to do at home


that said, i would be curious to know what other [Australians] have been advised under similar circumstances and grateful if those with experience could drop me a line...


i had a friendly missile yesterday
entirely out of the blue
someone letting me know i'd been googlewhacked
apparently a term for being the sole hit
when a two-word search is entered

my correspondent had entered the words
contentment and sesquicentenarian
in a search
and found my pages

of course my mention of the event here
will ruin the whacking
as there will now be two mentions on the 'net
here's a link to the page
an image from the relevant location