Back to the Studio…and Back to the Routine

It’s already two weeks since we returned from our lovely holiday in Italy and Germany. I’m over the jet lag and have caught up on most of the jobs “to do after our return”. Below are photos of the beautiful Lake Garda, Italy.
My daily/weekly routine has returned and I’m happy to be able to make a start on my next wearable art piece after only being able to think and dream about it for over a month. Some purchasing of materials and a quick dyeing session yesterday means I have made a start on some samples.
The first full day session of WAFTA@WAM was last Saturday. In this program I am helping others through all the steps to create their own Wearable Art garment to enter in Wearable Art Mandurah (WAM) for 2018. I’m really looking forward to seeing their amazing ideas develop into finished garments.
I was delighted to find in the mail on our return, amongst all the bills, my copy of Down Under Textiles Magazine. Back in February I was asked to become a regular contributor and this Issue 29 has my first column. The magazine, also as of this issue, is available in Barnes and Noble in USA.
In the mail this week was a copy of the beautiful catalogue for Art Quilt Australia 2017. There are many stunning works in this exhibition and I feel honoured to have my work juried for inclusion amongst them. If you have the chance to be in Launceston, Tasmania before 22 October I think it would be well worth a visit.

Simple Steps to Surface Design

Aha and AHHHH…These are the words you want to hear from participants in your workshop. That lovely moment when something clicks or they can see a connection to what you are presenting and the type of work they already do…a new way of working, a slight twist, an “of course”… I’ve had all these moments myself at workshops and artist talks. Some of them are defining moments in my work. Often a small, seemingly insignificant part of the whole, has made the difference.
I had the great pleasure of running two half day workshops for WAFTA late last week. Simple Steps to Surface Design was part of a series of Textile Techniques Toolbox workshops to coincide with the launch of “Altered States” WAFTA’s member challenge exhibition. The challenge is to create a small work of art from the surprise contents of a bag of materials. These workshops are designed to inspire and expand possibilities.Print wsahop 4In my half day workshops we covered screen printing in various forms, gelli printing, stamping, spray stencils, fugitive medium, Dylon and RIT dyeing. A lot to cover in a few hours, just a taster to explore further if it was of interest. The participants made lots of A4 size samples – reference material for future work.Print wshop2Print wshopPrint wshop 12Print wshop 10Print wshop 7I loved seeing my stencils and stamps used in ways I would never have thought of…how each participant explored new possibilities. I loved their delight when something surprised them and they were excited to explore further.Print wshop 3Plastic dyed 4Print wshop 5

Print wshop 9Dyed PlasticPlastic Dye 3 Dyeing DylonI am really looking forward to seeing all that comes from this.


Last week when I dropped my son Callum to work at Para Quad waiting to speak to his Supervisor, I had a chat with the chap who sorts the buttons…Para Quad ButtonsEvery garment that is unsuitable for sale has its buttons removed and the fabric is cut up for industrial rags in another section at Para Quad. The buttons are sorted into colours and jars for sale through the shop and the Scroungers Sale (next one is 27th November – get there early!) There is a huge plastic storage box under this table full of buttons to be sorted.Para Quad Buttons 2I started making button necklaces about five years when I acquired my Mother-in-Law’s button collection, working with the colours and combinations available until I ran out of buttons…I purchased a jar of white buttons from Para Quad last year.White ButtonsStepping forward to a few weeks ago and my Wearable Art Mandurah garment for 2017 needed yellow buttons, lots of yellow buttons…I had recently discovered through a Google search that RIT DyeMore Synthetic dye gives good permanent colour to plastics.RIT Dye I was delighted to see my white buttons become bright yellow after only a few minutes in the dye bath. Dyeing Buttons

Dyeing Buttons 2I love the shades of yellows, how the dye is picked up by the different plastics.Yellow Buttons 5

Yellow Buttons

Colour Project Update

Last week I received this comment on my blog…

I was browsing through google images for screen print textures and I fell in
love with yours! I was wondering if you’ll grant me permission and allow me
to incorporate one your photos above in a personal project of mine…

Firstly, I really appreciate that she asked for my permission to use the image. When I found out a little more about her project I was delighted to see what she was doing and happy for her to go ahead.

Sabrina Lam is from British Columbia, Canada and is a second year Communication Design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Here is Sabina’s completed album cover design.

daydreamers album coverdaydreamers back cover + spine label

My original image below is one of the samples I made in The Colour Project  I stamped a rubber mat directly onto hand dyed fabric.

Purple 30Another of my colour samples was used with permission on this book cover. It still amazes me how people randomly find the images through google…

I love how The Colour Project continues to live on. The project was a year long investigation into “textile techniques” where I made a small sample of work everyday in 2012. Each month I chose a different colour for the samples. The result for me, was that it got all the techniques I was wanting to try “out of my system”. I no longer have the need nor desire to purchase or try everything textile wise that is out there and it’s a great reference source.

I am delighted it has also inspired others to do their own version of a project like this… A friend of mine is currently exploring circles…The make something everyday idea is not mine, it’s stolen and adapted from many other sources such as a photograph a day, a quilt block a week etc…Simply a way to get working…small chunks at a time. Austin Kleon describes it here Say something small every day. My suggestion would be to chose something specific, reducing the decisions you need to make each day to get started. I committed to a colour each month, I also followed techniques and themes such as hand embroidery stitches, natural dyeing, recycling, soy wax, paper folding…

I hope you give it a go, and if you do, I’d love to hear from you!

More Sun Dyeing

I have the results of the latest sun dye jars. Unlike me, silk organza and silk 1 ply combined with purple carrots and beetroot have been enjoying our hot Perth December.

Sun dye beetroot 4Sun dye beetroot 3Sun dye Beetroot 2Sun dye BeetrootSun dye purple carrots 2Most of these pieces of fabric are left over scraps from previous projects and samples. Stitching and printing prior to dyeing has produced lovely soft, worn like pieces. I am not sure if I’m ready to stitch a whole work and then dye it. It’s the opposite way I would usually work and more risky…

Sun dye purple carrotsSun dye carrotsThis is the time of year that we review what we have achieved in the past year. Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz Blog suggests using her The See Plan. Creativity, Commitment, Clarity, Community, Connection, Confidence, Completion and Celebration to structure the review. I spent time on this yesterday, it was great to review how little and how much I have done. It was well worth doing. It got me thinking about plans other than just the obvious “making art” deadlines.

The Best Laid Plans…

I took a planned week away from Wearable Art to work in my garden, planting a small area where the kids cubby house has recently been removed and weeding, weta soiling, mulching…much needed for our Perth summer.

In the garden I found the Sun Dyeing jars prepared a month earlier. Three jars of purple carrots. I placed silk scraps from previous projects in each, some were stitched with poly cotton thread, some screen printed. The colours are lovely soft purples and the jar with soda ash added is a beautiful silver grey. This jar popped open and the carrots were rather mushy (maybe a little too long in the sun) Sun dye 1Sun dye 6

Sun dye 3Sun dye 4Sun dye 7Sun dye 5Another jar of berries from a neighbours tree stunk out the house when I opened it. I washed the silk several times and still had to leave it outside for days AND rewash before the smell is bearable. Any suggestions for removing bad smells from silk would be appreciated. The jar had been out for near on a year, the colour was honey like. I won’t bother with that again.Sun dye 2Coincidentally, Selvage Magazine has an article in the latest issue No.67 “Fragranced Fibres” about the history of perfumed fibres. Fragrance used in the final stages to disguise the foul smelling dye processes, during laundering and in storage chests to reduce insect damage.

I do love this lazy dyeing. I have refilled the jars, added a few more purple carrots, beetroot and avocado pips. There is almost instant colour in the carrots and beetroot jars and nothing in the avocado jar on the right. Clearly doing something wrong here. 🙁Sun dye 12Sun dye 11Sun dye 9These jars with soda ash are on a chair so the puppy (short legged Dachshund) can’t get to them!

With the plan to start working on my wearable art piece again last week, my son Callum had two days of vomiting and then my husband who had just thankfully arrived safely  home from Brussels and Italy, developed acute pain, a trip to the emergency dept of the local hospital, they suspect he passed a kidney stone. All plans astray, refocus on the most important thing – my family.

Trudi Pollard’s Colour Garden

WAFTA members had the great pleasure to visit WAFTA Life Member Trudi Pollard‘s Studio recently. Trudi Pollard's studio 1Trudi has an amazing studio set in the Perth hills with gorgeous views over a local dam.Trudi's studio 6Trudi's studio 5Trudi is a talented textile artist and exceptionally knowledgeable natural dyer. She has created a large “Colour Garden” as her resource for dyeing. Along with the traditional Indigo, madder etc and the Australian eucalyptus varieties, Trudi introduced us to many common introduced plants that give wonderful colour.  Trudi PollardTrudi's studioJars of Sun Dyeing fabrics – Mulberries, Purple Carrots…TRudi's studio 3

The drawing area inside Trudi’s StudioTrudi Pollard's Studio 6Beautiful colour range of naturally dyed silksTrudi Pollard's Studio 5

Trudi Pollard's Studio 4Trudi Pollard's Studio 3








A visit or workshop with Trudi is always a treat. Her passion and enthusiasm for natural dyeing rubs off, this visit, inspiring me to do a bit of sun dyeing. Purple carrots + silk + sun + time = …

Thank you Trudi and Helena for great afternoon.






Some Progress on a Stormy Day

We have had a wet and stormy weekend in Perth. After a few weeks of trialling samples for my latest work, Sunday was the perfect day to stay indoors and get on with it!

Paper DoilliesOver a month ago I cut out these paper doilies whilst watching TV. Simply cutting, not with any great consideration to the result, just playing. They sat pinned to the design board for a few weeks and then I have trialled printing, stamping, reworking, stitching, redrawing.Printing 10 On Friday I dyed a batch of fabrics to bring the colours to something tonally similar. I used a dylon multipurpose dye as some are silks, some blends of other things.This image doesn’t show the full range of fabrics I dyed. Some were strong pinks and bright greens. The  error in photography after the event…Printing 1 A final six motifs were planned and initially printed. A little more refining and stitching and I decided to use the two strongest motifs only. I printed about 100 of these motifs in just over an hour.Printing 2 Printing 3 While I was cleaning up the screens in the laundry, I noticed some colour on this stormy grey day. The last of the leaves of our neighbour’s Chinese Tallow Tree and an orange creeper. Printing 5 The greens in our own backyard were also more vibrant, not washed out by the sun. Printing 7 Then the sun came out…Stunning, glistening, autumn leaves. Printing 8 After the stormy night I am sure there are very few leaves left on the tree now.Printing 9There was more vivid orange in our lentil soup cooking on the stove as I printed. What a contrast to my fabric choice!



Back to the Basics

I am starting a new piece of work for an exhibition and one of the first steps is to make some transfer prints. The process of making the print involves applying dispersal dyes to a piece of paper and when dry, ironing the print onto fabric. The dyes on the paper are lovely muted colours, the heat process changes the print to rich, vibrant colour. As you will see below, not always in the direction you expect!

Print 1 Print 2 Print 6 Print 6a I do know however after years of trial and error that the colour combinations I use will have a fairly predictable pleasant result. Most of the texture markings are from old lace.Print 8 Print 8a Print 9 Print 9a Print 10 Print 10a The dyes are very economical so I haven’t bought any for a long time. I purchased some online a little while ago assuming I was getting similar, good mixing colours.  Using my standard “Surprise Mix” technique, I have ended up with darker and more brown/orange shades than I had hoped. The challenges of colour selection via computer screen.

So, Back to the Basics. Testing and mixing samples. I started with a standard mix of each colour, including the set of textile crayons I use for texture rubbings. Dyes are Turquoise, Royal Blue, Scarlet, Violet and Canary Yellow.

. Sample 3 Sample 4

Next I made a set of each colour combination, 1:1, 1:2 & 1:3 mixes. The paper is on the left, the fabric on the right, mirror image.

Sample 2Samples 1It is now much clearer what colour possibilities are available, AND that I need to order some Magenta! I hope it is brighter than the computer screen sample suggests…

Massive Distraction

11feb2015 004

Cushion with green leaf print is by Callum

The Massive Distraction (Mini Dachshund named Ruby) has arrived and truly settled into our household. Here she is with ownership of her spot on the couch in my studio. She is very well behaved for a puppy, although a gorgeous distraction from getting any sort of work done.

School has now commenced for the year and although that means less time due to the various work/school routines and being a taxi service after school commitments, I do find I actually achieve more. I know sometimes that odd hour before dinner prep is the only opportunity to get some printing or machine stitching done. I plan time ahead for the other steps required to start new work. This is often much more productive than giving me a whole free day to work which gets wasted on important stuff like emails and washing. I also find the time spent doing mundane things like driving in the car, going for a walk or having a shower is when the creative challenges are resolved. In my head anyway!

Print set up 2

A simple set up on the washing machine, in the laundry, but it works well.

These were printed  a couple of days ago for a new large canvas I have in mind.  Printing Stamp printing 1 Stamp printing

Yesterday afternoon I made a series of transfer prints for the under layer. The actual fabrics are lovely, the colours here are a bit off – I had the time to print although not enough time to photograph them well.Transfer print 1 Transfer print 2  Transfer print 4 Transfer print 5 Transfer printsI have a few projects on the go at present and now back into my usual routine, I am feeling quite good about them.