Change in the weather

Change in the weatherSummer has arrived with its bloody hot days and super storms to end them. Everything is changing.

I have an updated OS system on my apple – and I don’t like it. My scroll bars seems to constantly go walkabout.

Flickr seems different – I’m not sure my artwork will embed.

When I text one friend, it now answers to my iPad.

Sometimes I want to take technology and throw it against the wall. A month ago everything worked fine! I blame Christmas. Most people get cranky about something at Christmas and it seems my technology is getting in early and getting cranky at me.

Rant over.

Scout the 20 year old tortie goes home

IMG_5167
The little cat from yesterday was again today sighted on and off the road near Macdonald town station. This time I was prepared – I had a cat cage in the car. I just to had to hope that she was happy to be carried a block to the car! Thankfully she wasn’t the bitey or scratching kind. In fact, she snuggled up in my arms and didn’t seem fussed.

I was delighted when I got her to Cat Protection to find out that she did indeed have a microchip. It turns out that she is 20 and called Scout. She likes to wander but now with a bit of dementia gets lost.

Alls well that ends well.

The one I couldn’t help

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Near work I found a man trying to get a cat off the road. He was successful but she went back on and sat down in the middle of the road. She had a collar on and seemed friendly enough so I picked her up off the road and took her to the footpath. When I lofted her I just felt ribs. She was clearly used to being held. I have her a rub under the chin and checked her collar. No tag on collar but noticed she was infested with fleas. I waited until it looked like she was staying off the road and continued to the shop. On my way back to work she was sitting in the middle of the road again. After much deliberation I decided to go back
to work and get a box and walk her to the vet around the corner to see if she had a microchip. She had a desexing tattoo. Someone has owned her at some point. By the time I came back with the box I couldn’t find her. I just keep telling myself at least she’s no longer on the road.

Farewelling a giant


Today Andrew ventured into the heart of Sydney to join others who had gathered to pay tribute to the late Gough Whitlam, former Australian Prime Minister. Whitlam became prime minister when Andrew was about 9 months old. The changes that Whitlam made in the following 3 years in part helped Andrew be there today in his loaned electric wheelchair. Whitlam was behind medicare and without it so much of assistance that Andrew receives for his disability, would be out of reach – a fact not loss on either of us. Today because Whitlam believed in universal health care, Andrew was able to join other like minded souls paying tribute to this giant of Australian politics. He was there right at the front of the crowd near the large screen as Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly sang ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. Andrew held up his iphone for just over 6 minutes to video the crowd – which with his muscle condition is not an easy task. He knew that it was a special moment and one he wanted to share with me. What he captured which you don’t get on the official video above are the cheers of the crowd – many of whom were Aboriginal – as they sing about the tall stranger who appeared in the land.

Whenever a public figure dies, there is often praise and remembrance. In the case of Whitlam I’m delighted that people are celebrating the way he changed our country forever. Too often his achievements, his vision and ambition for Australia is overshadowed by his dramatic dismissal from power. No matter what your political persuasion; no matter what your thoughts on the controversies of his time; I think it would be hard to disagree that the changes Whitlam made – and paved the way for – in 3 short years, changed the face of the nation for the next 40 years or more. A truly remarkable man.

Quilt me a river

Detail of partly quilted piece Now that the disability standards audit is over (and successful), I have a long weekend to enjoy starting with finishing one side of my quilt. I wasn’t sure that any quilting was going to get done as it is not the best activity for 35 degree weather! Thankfully the room wasn’t too hot and with the opportunity to use Bev’s very large specialist quilting machine I couldn’t not! I’m just learning free motion so I went with a wavy and irregular pattern on the brown so you can’t really see any mistakes! It’s much faster doing it free motion than with the walking foot – which is how I’m doing the spirals as my accuracy is not good enough to free motion them. Detail of partly quilted piece 2 I’ve also attached below a picture of the most of the quilt. Part of the top is missing (as it was hanging over the fence). My next task is to quilt the other brown side and lose all those safety pins. IMG_6280

Fabric surface design workshop

Shiva Paintstick rubbing I’ve finally finished washing out all my dyed fabrics from last Saturday so have moved on to revisiting what I did last Sunday at the Surface Design Workshop with Lisa Walton. Yes, I had 2 days of fabric fun, followed by a week of very long hours. The audit to ensure my employer complies with the disability standards looms ever closer. I use the word ‘looms’ deliberately as I’ve been working towards this for months and it’s a bit of an unknown.

So given this is such a priority, I decided to go for a walk instead! I went in search of any interesting surfaces for some rubbings onto fabric. Unfortunately, this is a little tricky without tresspassing. Mostly I just found manhole covers :-( (see picture above). Perhaps I need to go for a walk in a more stylish neighbourhood!

Dye Workshop fabric

Saffron (and a peek of Licorice) assisting with the photography

Since getting home I’ve been photographing some of the pieces I bought home from the workshops and some that I’ve done since. Of course, the girls have assisted as per usual. Pity they don’t help with policy writing!

Anyway, here are the photos of the fabric from the Dye Workshop. I have NO IDEA what I’m going to do with it. When I took the workshop I thought I would learn how to dye and possibly come home with a few pieces of fabric. There are over 24 fat quarters here (and no – they aren’t all orange, that’s just my camera not cooperating!)

Dye workshop - graduated set

Dye workshop with Lisa Walton – graduated set

I mostly used the more earthy pigments Lisa had available. When it came to my ‘graduated set’ I decided to use the fuschia mixed with something (I can’t remember what!) Anyway, I quickly discovered it was a little too pink in the lighter versions so I added black to most of the pieces and that’s why my fabrics are a little mottled. I’m still not keen on those really light ones. They scream ‘paint over me!’

I learnt my lesson and avoided the fuschia dye for the rest of the day. (I thought it would be more like alizaron crimson, or quinacridone crimson but clearly not. As it turns out I found that all my paint knowledge is fairly useless when it comes to dye colours – I really couldn’t predict what colour I was going to get (apart from the basic idea of hue). I did try to get an autumnal set and was quite happy with the outcome. Evidently there was a lot more staining power in the warm colours than the green as I ended up with 5 warm to 1 green but I’m not fussed. I like it anyway!

Dye workshop my autumnal colours

Dye Workshop – my autumnal colours

Finally, all the pictures below are either from the Surface Design Workshop or pieces I have done since using techniques from that day.

Lisa has just published the first in an ebook series called Creative Journeys. Last week she was very excited and couldn’t wait for its launch. Well mid-week, it arrived and is now available through amazon or from Lisa directly. It’s on Fun and Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques.

It includes many of the techniques we did last week and some more. Indeed, fabric painting is a lot of fun and pretty easy – especially when it comes to salt and sundyes.

Sundyed fabric with salt

Sundyed Fabric with salt

Sundyed fabric 3

Sundyed fabric

Sundyed fabric 2

More sundyed fabric

Using handcarved stamps on fabric

Handcarved stamps on fabric

Stencilling

Waste not! Stencilling on some of my clean up pieces

Handpainted fabric 6

Embellishing further with charcoal, inktense sticks etc.

Handpainted fabric 5

I didn’t bother washing my brushes. Consequently the ‘green metallic’ went more antique gold – but I like!

Handpainted fabric 4

Did anyone say autumn colours?

Handpainted fabric 3

Experimenting with rubbings

Handpainted fabric 2

More experiments with rubbings – mostly shiva paintstick

Handpainted fabric 1

Stencils and rubbings on handpainted fabric.

Dyeing Workshop

Note the all important “e” in the title of this post. When I arrived at the Dyeing Workshop this morning, one of the other participants recounted how her son had asked whether she really needed to attend a workshop on dying?

Dyed Fabric batches
With a major project due at work at the end of the month, it’s been a long week. I’ve clocked up 43 hours of work in 4 days and probably could have done without the weekend being booked out with fabric dyeing and painting. I had booked this earlier but due to circumstances the company couldn’t control they had to move it to this weekend.

Despite not being the best timing, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What a magnificent spring day for dyeing metres of fabric in a stunning cottage garden. I’m terribly eager to bust the fabric out of their little zip lock bag batches and take a look at the fruits of my labour… but I’m told I must wait 24 hours! I have them all laid out – it reminds me of pictures from a police drug bust haul.

The workshop facilitator – Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven – was very friendly, had clear instructions and with it being in her studio, it had a lovely air of hospitality (including home baked chocolate brownies for morning tea).

I gravitated generally towards the more ‘earthy’ colour pigments – what a surprise! – with one of my favourites being the ‘tangerine’. Lisa has warned me that the colours do change once dry – another reason I want to take them out of the bags, wash them off and hang them out to dry.

I do need to put them in a washing machine. I’m debating who will be more receptive to freshly dyed fabric in their washing machine – the mothership or the man? (Yes, yes, I know. Quite ridiculous that after years of renting I still don’t have a washing machine but if I got one I’d have nowhere to put the cat litter trays!)

Did anyone say orange?
Looking forward to the surface design workshop tomorrow. Much more familiar territory but confident that I’ll still pick up some tips and tricks. At least with tomorrow, when I get paint all over me it will come off straight away. I have managed to dye a couple of fingers blue. Lisa says it takes about 2 days to come off. I do have a 2 day seminar to run at work Monday / Tuesday. Fortunately many of them are clinical people who are used to getting messy with kids so they probably won’t be bothered by my coloured digits!

There’s gravy in my ear

What big ears you have

Safffron & Licorice in a post breakfast snooze

One of these days I’m going to pour gravy down Licorice’s ear. Every morning without fail I supply breakfast. I am a loyal subject and feed my 2 furry masters a generous helping. Despite this routine and commitment, Licorice seems to feel that unless she sticks her head over the bowl with great gusto that the food will not land in it. I know the day is coming when gravy will end up in her ear and I don’t really want to explain that to the vet. Perhaps it is this vigorous activity she has each morning that has helped to reduce her substantial girth. The last time the girls both went to the vets there was much cheering when Licorice tipped the scales at only 6 kilos and Saffron at 5.5!

While the girls have been busy losing weight, I’ve been creating a new art quilt for them to distribute their fur on. The first quilt I made is at Andrew’s place. The second I gave to mum for Christmas (last Christmas that is). This quilt is mine. I designed it inspired by Gustav Klimt paintings. I wanted something which suggested a female form but was not pictorial.

While I dabbled in painting fabric for the first quilt I did, this one has had a more concerted effort. It’s been fun making ‘art’ on fabric and then selecting pieces of it to sew into my quilt , together with store bought fabrics.

Quilt Centrepiece

Above is how it looked last Saturday. I’ve left it with my sewing teacher who is sourcing some woven interfacing to help stiffen the piece before trying to attach to the background. Interfacing or not… I’m expecting there will be a few curse words trying to fit the background into those curves. Still, it will be worth it in the end. A one of kind lap quilt for me to snuggle under… next winter!

 

For Carmen and my foot

Carmen has spoken. What has happened to the blog? I’ve never met Carmen. I’m sure she exists, although I suppose it is vaguely possible she is my father’s imaginary friend. Either way she wants to know, what happened to the blog? Hmm… I think I do too. I could write a post about what’s been happening in my life since April 25, or I could give you a stream of thoughts from just this morning.

The day started with pondering the connections between children’s songs. I know. You all wake up wondering how Old Macdonald links to the Wheels on the Bus song. This for me is a sure sign that work has infected my brain temporarily. It’s not an infection that you need the serious antibiotics to be rid of. More like when you have a cold and your voice gets gravely and people notice. It’s there, it’s different and you just have to wait for it to go away.

My boss has asked me for an inspiring presentation for Wednesday. I know that inspiration is not going to come from Old Macdonald – possibly one of the most annoying children’s songs of all time. If I were free to choose any topic I like I’m sure that I could unearth some inspiration somewhere. Sadly, I am not. I need to make a quality framework sound inspiring. Galumph and humph to that. The strange thing is that at times I have been inspired. Um… scratch that. Not inspired… fired up, emotional and passionate. If I can find that, perhaps I can meet his challenge.

Meanwhile my foot is starting to groan with pins and needles. On top of my foot (besides my leg) is my cat. (times 2). They have actually lost weight. Saffron is now a cool 5.5kg and Licorice an even 6 but with both pancaked on top of my crossed leg, my poor left foot is…. VIBRATING AND SINGING… oh that would the iPad with Andrew wanting to FaceTime.

I has unearthed the iPad from under fat cats, blankets and legs.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Writing a blog post?’

‘Oh. That would the first of the year?’ [Cheeky grin]

‘Nope, the first since April 25th if you must know.’

‘And what are you doing?’

‘Reading about the legacy of pragmatism in the element of design’

‘Of course.’

Suddenly Quality Frameworks have an instantaneous appeal. They are far more lush and enticing than a 25 page orgy of academia on the construct of ideas in art. He did tell me the title of the article; I can’t remember it exactly but if I were to call it the ‘permutation and liberation of design from post modernism’ it would make just as much sense as the real title.

He read me a paragraph. It reminds me of sentences created from word salad fridge magnets, except not nearly as much fun. Certainly a long way from the TED talk I watched this morning which is promoted as ‘lyrical origami’. Only after watching the video could I truly appreciate the accuracy of the description of ‘lyrical origami’. A truly delightful, witty and mellifluous talk. Here it is for you to enjoy for yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m

Becoming a Gelli Arts Plate Print Tragic

Gelli Art Plate Printing + Crayon SketchTime off. Finally a chance to play with my new art toy – the Gelli Arts Plate. I know that gelli plates have been around for years. To be perfectly honest, I thought they were expensive as by my logic, I could do exactly the same thing with a piece of perspex or glass. WRONG.

The gelli plate is just much more sensitive to any marks or texture that I put down prior to pulling the print. I discovered just how sensitive by accident. I decided to ‘color’ some encyclopaedia pages for use in collage. I did a sheet and then printed a ghost print. The ghost had the writing on it.

Having discovered that, well, it was time to discovered whether it just worked with book paper… what about newspaper? Magazine pages? Yup. They all work too. For a girl who loves layering through glazes, collage, crayon, this was super exciting – I’ve just added another option! Results are varied and I love that! I’ve always enjoyed taking advantage of accidental marks so it’s a technique that is perfect for me.

So far all of my experimenting has been on 200gsm paper from officeworks. I figured as I wasn’t sure what would work, I would employ some thrift and save the good paper for later. 200gsm seems thick enough that it prints well and thin enough that should I wish to, I can still rip up the paper and incorporate into an art work. Here are a few of the results.

Magazine Print in Quinacridone Crimson

Gelli Arts Plate & Magazine Print 3This piece of paper started white. I’ve monoprinted it a few times – primarily with Titan Buff and Green Gold and then pulled a print from a magazine page off the gelli plate using Quinadcridone Crimson. The prints from book / magazine paper seem to work best in a darker colour on a light background.

Magazine Photo in Anthraquinone Blue

Gelli Arts Plate & Magazine Print 4
I have no idea how the little ‘crystals’ form in their clothing through the printing process. It could be because I don’t clean my brayer very well!

Ghost Print of Photograph on Copy Paper

Gelli Arts Plate Print 9

The Cubist Man?

Do you see a man in this print? Andrew does. A cubist one apparently. It’s actually a photograph I took years ago of some roof tops (I was in a hotel and this was the “view”). I have rotated the image 90 degrees so if you don’t see Melbourne rooftops, don’t be alarmed!

For more of my early experiments, see my Flickr Page Gelli Arts Plate Album.

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