The routine has gone astray…

Nearly two weeks ago my son had an unexpected hernia operation. He has been recovering well, happy to camp out in the family room all day with his doona and pillows and watch DVDs. Occasionally asking for food or a new DVD. I have been home with him most of the time so you would think this is an excellent opportunity to make lots of art work…No, a rather strange impulse to spring clean, and feeling quite frustrated about what to do next. I have no pressing deadline to work towards right now. I have lots of ideas, but no clear direction.
So I decided to just start. Something familiar, printing dots and stripes, on dupion silk. There were several routine processes once I started; ironing, layering, stitching.
 Then cutting back the layers. And as I do, time to think about how can I change this up a bit? What can I do differently? What could this become?The familiar rhythm of working has soothed the frustration and my lack of daily routine.

Wearable Art Mandurah Exhibition

What is it made of? What does that look like up close?…questions often asked by people watching the WAM showcase or seeing photos of Wearable Art. The Wearable Art Mandurah exhibition is the opportunity to see a selection of 30 garments from the 2017 competition up close.The Mandurah Mail has lots of beautiful images from opening night. Here are some of my detail snaps to tempt you!
 These are just a taster of the stunning the exhibition, across two venues this year, running until 3rd September. It’s well worth a visit 🙂
CASM Wed – Sun 10am – 4pm 63 Ormsby Terrace Mandurah
Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery Mon – Fri 9am -5pm, Sat 10am – 4pm, Sun 12 – 4pm Ormsby Terrace Mandurah

Stitched and Bound 2017

Stitched and Bound 2017 opened last Saturday, on a cold and wet afternoon, to a packed gallery. The exhibition of Innovative Contemporary Quilting consists of 36 jury selected works showing a large range of techniques and materials. It’s well worth a visit 🙂

I am delighted to have my piece Silver Linings #2 A Glimpse of Silver on show in the exhibition.These gallery images are were taken on the following morning. You couldn’t see the works from a distance at the opening!The exhibition is on at Zig Zag Gallery, Kalamunda until 30th July 2017

open Mon – Fri 9-4, Sat – Sun 10-4

Amanda McCavour – Fibres West 2017

I have just spent a wonderful week at Fibres West with the gorgeous tutor Canadian Artist Amanda McCavour in our class Experimental Surfaces: Machine Stitching and Unexpected Materials.I was drawn to attend Amanda’s class through her stunning installation works – and in hope that my previous failed attempts at machine embroidery using water soluble fabrics could be rectified.

I came to the class with a tonne of ideas, but put them aside to try samples of the techniques Amanda taught us. These first two days of technically successful samples became a solid foundation for my experiments and discoveries over the next three days.

We used Solvy, a water soluble “fabric”. Basically you stitch on the Solvy and as long as you have enough intersecting stitches, once you dissolve the Solvy the whole piece stays together, as a stitched line only. Sometimes easier said than done…

We sampled three types of Solvy, each useful for differing types of work. Firsty, sandwiching fibres, threads and small pieces of fabric.Using some scraps from my cut away workAs long as you capture these small pieces with stitch…it should all hold togetherAlternative materials such as security envelopes, poster card, acetate and paper held in place between two layers of sticky solvy.Stitchedand washed out And all stitchThis type of work can be light and airy or heavily stitched.I came to the workshop wanting to further explore cocoons and spent the remainder of the week working on this challenge. I wanted to make one complete cocoon, not having to join it in any way. This first attempt was too rounded at the top. So I started with the capsCreating a method for the peak and threadThen the baseTrialing the whole cocoon in one piece, adding some patternThen, consoling myself that the cocoon would need to be in two piecesTrialling a stainless steel/linen thread in the bobbin The cap

which caused the tension to go astray – a lovely mistakeand the final piece adding some security envelope paper scraps (in my test sample the colour bled onto the thread)


Work of others in the class –  ClaireWendyJan The Group sample wall growing all weekThe classroom was a buzz with sewing machines (mostly Bernina) all week. Some, the price of a small car. Claire’s 1970s, vintage? model was much admired and worked beautifully all week. Such tough machines 🙂

 

Making La Mariposa’s Cocoon

My usual way of working, is to get a great idea, think about the project for a while, make a start, slowly work and refine, let it sit at various stages, think some more, have a serious period of doubt, rethink, rework and over time, usually a few months, the original great idea in my head becomes a finished work – often not as I had possibly imagined it.

La Mariposa’s Cocoon was a very different experience. A waiting game…
Although I could see the development of the Wearable Art Whispers Project and form some ideas, as the final artist I needed to respond to the work of each of the other artists and add to the overall piece. Until I received the box and had the opportunity to unwrap each artists contribution, see the details up close and set up the whole garment, I had no idea if my thoughts would be possible.

A very short time frame. Each artist in the Wearable Art Whispers project had a month to complete their section. Half way through my month, I had an absolute deadline for the launch, then made even shorter by garment fitting and reveal rehearsals.

A completely different starting point. La Mariposa’s cocoon is the first work I have ever made with performance in mind as the initial idea for the work. I had an image of La Mariposa emerging from a cocoon, surrounded by curious young children and them unwrapping her. M. C. Escher’s Bond of Union came to mind.

Untested materials. I used materials I had never worked with before, I had never made a piece so large.

The process and the practicalities. “How is she going to get out?” was the question my immediate family continued to ask as I planned and then made the cocoon. “I’m not really sure yet” was my usual answer.

I started the process of making La Mariposa by researching images of cocoons (technically Chrysalis) for shape, colour, texture and how butterflies emerge. At this point I could have become VERY sidetracked as they are beautiful, a huge variety of colours, shapes, designs…then I started looking at the amazing variety of caterpillars and…

I chose a simple style with a distinct cap and ridge. The ridge defined the widest point of the cocoon to allow for La Mariposa’s wing span. It also determined the overall height. I chose to use cane for the armature for its lightness, flexibility and natural curve. Thank you Liz Arnold for a wonderful supply of cane 🙂Layers of cane masking taped together. The cane itself created this lovely curve.

Happy with the ridge, I continued to make large circles to define the width of the cocoon and create the cap.Each circle was then strung together to get the shape and height correct and then secured with crochet chain.

Testing the height on my daughter’s very tall friend.Of course this had to be hung as I worked on it. You can see above, I used a pole suspended between two cupboard doors initially and then a broom handle between two clothes airers so I could work at a reasonable height on the cap section.Above is a family affair – my daughter testing there is enough space for the wings, my Dad to the right, he had just brought over a free standing hanging frame he made and Ruby the Dachshund supervising.

Happy with the shape, next was to what to cover with. From the red and black in the  images I had seen of La Mariposa I planned to use a gorgeous piece of shot red/black/silver Ruth Tarvidas fabric I picked up at Para Quad op shop, however next to the garment it looked awful.

Back to google. I found images of microscopic details of cocoon patterns distinctive to particular species of butterflies. This started the inspiration for the use of recycled doilies.A quick Facebook request to our local Buy Nothing Group, a quick email to family and friends…crickets. A mad run around all the local op shops, and then slowly a few donations came in. I realised that people have either long ago cleaned out their linen cupboard, or they collect and cherish them. And I agree, I couldn’t donate those precious doilies made by my Nanna either. The lovely Rachel from our Buy Nothing group gave me over 50 from her collection and others gave generously too. Below are some of the beautiful designs donated.
Eventually I thought I had enough to cover the 2.8m height and 3m circumference. Initially I hand stitched individual pieces to the cocoon top…Then to speed things up for the main body of the cocoon, doilies were cut into strips and machine stitched back together. Before I attached this covering I needed to make a final decision about the opening. La Mariposa was to emerge herself, however very delicately to protect the wings and hand pieces. A few sleepless nights considering ideas:- unraveling – it needed to easily be reconnected to unravel again…  the front dropping down – it would become dirty very fast… and finally parting – lose press studs with gaps in between gave the model enough room to wiggle her hand through and then be able to expand the opening with her wrists, arms and leg.Cutting the cane armature for the opening, so close to completion was one of the most difficult things to do. Luckily it pretty much held its shape.

Other things to consider A free standing hanging frame to allow the cocoon to be used in a variety of locations. My Dad made the hanging frame from an old base for a table on wheels, a tent pole and a piece of chrome rod. The over cautious counter weight was made from a 20kg bag of sand covered in black fabric.

At this stage it functioned as a static piece…However the vision for La Mariposa to successfully emerge by herself was the dream goal and Tash from DTX Studios took my vision and ran with it. She made La Mariposa come alive and performed such an elegant reveal.

The Making of Everlasting Love?

Early last spring when nothing much was flowering, I watched the first blooms of the Everlasting Daisies on the median strips in our neighbourhood and on the daily commute taking my son to school. I watched the daisies follow the sun, close their petals against the rain, cloud cover and as the sun sets and open brightly again on sunny days. I documented them as they faded and went to seed. This coincided with my son’s final day of high school. Both with the promise and hope for new beginnings the following year.A year prior, on the last morning of Vicki Mason’s Fibres West class we learnt to make flower like brooches from computer wire. In July as we set up twentyONE+ there was a skip bin full of discarded computer equipment and cables near the gallery as the University was upgrading their technology systems.

The idea for Everlasting Love? came from these connections –
Our everlasting love with bright shiny new technology, often quickly discarded is resulting in landfill. Will future generations be planting everlasting daisies made from plastic coated copper wire from computer cables as our environment carries this burden of waste?
My vision was a wearable carpet of everlasting flowers.
Each of the 1000+ flowers in this work have been created using UTP computer cabling.
The blue plastic covering was stripped away, the paired wires were untwisted using a cordless drill, then stretched and dyed pink.The flower shapes were then spray painted in three shades of pinkOver 500m of cabling was used. I tried several materials to create the desired “skirt/train” shape and background for the flowers, eventually settling on chicken wire for the lightness and transparency.The “skirt/train” is clipped to adjustable shoulder straps and connected to large metal rings across the waist. The challenge was to make this comfortable for the model as well as quick and easy to remove. The corset has a side zip as well as adjustable lacing. Through experience in wardrobe I know you need the quick change option of a zip. Recycled buttons from Para Quad were hand dyed yellow for the flower centres and pink for the flower buds.
There were lots of trials for the flower buds.The final version being on an armature from wire, felt and sari silk to cover the shoulder straps.
 The completed carpet of flowers.

Wearable Art Mandurah Showcase – What a weekend!

It was a massive weekend. The brilliant showcase, seeing all the finalists garments, meeting up with new friends I have made through this competition, and enjoying the company of family and friends that came along to support me. AND, I’m absolutely thrilled that my entry Everlasting Love? won the Avant-Garde category in the Wearable Art Mandurah showcase last Saturday night.

Above with my darling Dad.

More images of the show here and backstage

There were some amazing artworks by TAFE Fashion and Floristry students in the foyer.


Due to a sell out show in 2016 a second show was also held on Sunday. In conjunction with this matinee show a DADAA initiative offered an enhanced performance for people who are blind or visually impaired. An audio description of the visual elements of the show via a personal headset was offered along with a pre-show tactile tour. We designers were given an opportunity to be involved in the Tactile Tour and asked to bring samples and leftover pieces of the materials we used to make our garments. These included wire, felt, doilies, cane, milk bottles, cool drink bottles, fabrics, wool, buttons and elements of artworks.The participants moved around the room to hear our “mini talks” about the making of our garments and descriptions whilst they touched and felt the materials. This was a very memorable and thought provoking experience for me and the other designers. So much attention in this very visual medium of Wearable Art is given to the story behind the work and the wow factor. It was an absolute pleasure to describe the details of the materials, textures, colours and construction to this very interested audience.

This cheeky guide dog sat on my foot during my talk. There is still a chance to see the amazing WAM artworks up close at the exhibition in August.

Artwalk Freo – Getting out of the studio

Sunday afternoon and the others are going to the footy. I should continue working on the canvas I have a deadline to finish, I feel like having a nap, I chose to visit Artwalk Freo… Best decision.
Artwalk Freo is a 4 km walking tour of home studios of eight well known Fremantle Artists, held last weekend. I visited six of the venues. Eveline Kotai, Jo Darbyshire, Annette Seeman and John Teschendorff, Ian de Souza, Penny Bovell and Trevor Richards.It was a delight to explore the lovely calm, light filled spaces in which these artists produce their work, see work in progress and materials of trade. Each artists’ home was filled with their own unique and interesting collections of books, objects, artworks, their own and those of others.Images are of Trevor Richards’ 1960’s house with its stunning terrazzo floors throughout (I understand built by the owner of the factory that produced much of the terrazzo flooring in Fremantle homes), and the original kitchen!Coincidentally, Down Under Textile magazine arrived today and I am thrilled that my own home studio is featured. As many people have already commented, it is very tidy…on this occasion 🙂

 

 

WA Inspired Art Quilters

A Dollar Each Way by Roberta Chantler

Fruits of Our Labours by Denise Mallon

WA Inspired Art Quilters is a group of eight ladies:- Hilary Arber, Roberta Chantler, Meg Cowey, Pat Forster, Elizabeth Humphreys, Stephanie Knudsen, Stella King and Denise Mallon who have joined together to exhibit their work with West Australian inspired themes. Their first exhibition is currently on at Mundaring Art Centre. It was a cold and wet Saturday afternoon when the Quilt and Textile Study Group visited the exhibition and were given an inspiring and informative talk by one of their members Liz Humphreys.

Eroding Dunes by Liz Humphreys

Water for the Goldfields from the Forest by Liz Humphreys

It is very evident that the group have a love and appreciation of the Western Australian landscape, have all travelled widely and many lived in rural settings.

A Pinch of Salt Please & Red Earth by Stephanie Knudsen

Wildflowers by Hilary Arber

Farm Feet with Attitude by Pat Forster

The exhibition consists of two Series of works:- Series – One Sand/Strata/Scheme/Salt & Series Two – Primary Production.

Lovely close up stitch details.

The exhibition runs until 18th June 2017.

 

 

Armatures Workshop with Katrina Virgona

My Mother’s Day gift was a 1 day WAFTA workshop with the lovely Katrina Virgona. 3D Textiles (or what the heck to do with an armature?!) I have admired Katrina’s work for some time and her piece “Emmeline” from twentyONE+ has pride of place in my studio.

The workshop was a great reassurance that I was generally on the right track with the few armatures I have made and has given me confidence to explore a range of wires, sizes and techniques for future projects…now happily sitting in the background until needed.3D workshop 113D workshop 123D workshop 13

3D workshop 143D workshop 16The great group of fellow workshoppers inspired each other throughout the day. It’s always delightful to see the what others create from exactly the same instructions and materials.3D Workshop3D workshop 93D workshop 10

We also discussed the pros and cons of Instagram…I now have an Instagram account louisewellsartist