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.

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.

Longevity in an Artistic Life

A recent WAFTA meeting honoured four octogenarian textile artist members – Peggy Buckingham, Judith Pinnell, Joy Knight and Margaret Regan. Peggy, Judith and Joy are all Life Members of WAFTA. Their contributions to textiles in Perth in the 70s, 80s and 90s through teaching, discovering and sharing new techniques have been of great benefit to us all. This is in the days before we could simply look up a technique on google, or be part of a like minded textile group on facebook. They were instrumental in starting textile groups such as WAFTA, 84 Group, FibresWest which are all still going strong today. All four of these ladies have a great passion for what they do and are still making work!

I truly hope I can still be making art in my 80s!

Austin Kleon‘s weekly newletter had a link to Carmen Herrera who is 101 this month and still exhibiting. She sold her first piece of work 81 years ago!

Towards my “Still Making Art” goal, I am currently – along with the rest of the committee,  doing a lot of admin work for twentyONE+. The exhibition opening in six weeks! It is starting to all come together and getting exciting.

WAFTA’s Memory and Commemoration exhibition has just finished in Busselton.

Last post Busselton

My work “Last Post” is the sheer organza piece, far left, Julia Sutton, front Diane Binns.

The latest projects are for OzQuilt Network Australia Wide Five – due too soon and “Brooching the Subject” I have been sun dyeing some silk organza for each project
Beetroot DyeingSun Dyed OrganzaNeither has turned out like my samples, but they are growing on me. (Dreadful photos thanks to very old camera – have since bought a new one!)

Beetroot Dyed OrganzaThe 40 x 40cm size for Australia Wide Five should be easy, although following the path of discovery “how would that work…” I am currently playing with four variations, none of which is developed enough as yet…

And slightly distracted – I made Ruby the sausage a sleeping bag

Ruby Sleeping Bag

More Dyeing

During the Christmas break we watched lots of cricket, read books and generally lazed about. My husband had a long overdue shirt purge. 20 + shirts, wrong size, outdated style, loved but worn out (for business wear) and a few “what was I thinking”! 12 went straight to the studio. The fabrics are quite lovely, subtle weaves, stripes and pattern.

ShirtsThe sleeves have gone through a “Velvet Black” Dylon dye bath. I am really pleased with resulting silver/grey/black variations due to the fibre content mix and time left in the dye bath.

Dyed ShirtsI threw in a few pieces of silk too.

Dyed SilkIt’s back to the studio full steam now. Common Threads Wearable Art submission is due before the end of January. I am very pleased relieved my garment is ready to be photographed!
The WAFTA juried exhibition twentyONE+ deadline is the end of February. I have 1.5 of 3 works ready for this. I’m on the committee so have a commitment to ongoing admin work during this time and well into the year. I am looking forward to the entries arriving!

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.

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!



Rose Coloured Glass Series

My body of work for the MELD Arts exhibition Hidden Revealed Transformed consists of 14 works. In this first series I have used the cut away technique that appears in many of my canvases. Silks and polyester fabrics have been dyed, printed and stitched.

Rose Coloured Glass

                                Distant memory is often seen through rose coloured glass.              But the truth is often more colourful.

Rose Coloured Glass #7

Rose Coloured Glass #7

Rose Coloured Glass #7 is a 61 x 61cm work made from 625 x 1 inch squares, each individually stitched onto the canvas.

#1 – 6 are 30 x 30cm.

Rose Coloured Glass #1

Rose Coloured Glass #1

Rose Coloured Glass #2

Rose Coloured Glass #2

Rose Coloured Glass #3

Rose Coloured Glass #3

Rose Coloured Glass #4

Rose Coloured Glass #4

Rose Coloured Glass #5

Rose Coloured Glass #5

Rose Coloured Glass #6

Rose Coloured Glass #6

CASM Exhibition

Yesterday was the final day of the Wearable Art Awards exhibition at Contemporary Art Space Mandurah. The curator of the exhibition followed through with the theme of Drift beautifully. She themed the space with drifting sand dunes and purposefully placed each garment with a warmly lit glow. Many artists took the opportunity to speak about their inspiration, ideas and the construction challenges making their garment. Here are a few of the works.


My work “Once”


The gallery space included images of all of the entries including the fantastic work of the Body Artists


L-R Leanne O’Toole & Cathy Upton, Deb Parkes & Maggie Wretham, Deb Hiller, Louise Wells, Annie Shelley, Hilary Dodds


Goddess of Gyre by Deb Parkes & Maggie Wretham


Kerry Gelmi talking about her daughter Victoria’s work Undertone


Where the Wild Things Are by Kerry & Greg Gelmi


Magical Memories by Shelly Higham & Linda Nunn


Kairavini by Julie Smith

imageimageThe 2015 competition was launched at this event. The theme is to be FABRICATION. Lots to think about…it was such a fun process this year, I think I will have to enter in 2015!

No more tea bags though!

Indigo Dreams

Indigo Dreams is my entry for the 2013 Australian Cotton Fibre Expo currently on display in Narrabri NSW.

Indigo Dreams Front

Indigo Dreams – Front

Indigo Dreams - Back

Indigo Dreams – Back










The piece is made from cotton voile which I have hand dyed in Indigo using simple resist techniques.  Each square has six layers of voile, machine stitched together with sections then cut away to fray and reveal additional patterning. Some sections have been hand stitched for an extra highlight.

Indigo Dreams - Detail 2

Indigo Dreams – Detail


Busy working

Screen 1

I’ve been very busy these past few weeks preparing work for some exhibitions.  Above are some texture rubbings applied in water soluble crayon onto silk screens. Below – some of the prints on grey silk.

Texture rubbing print 1

These we’re used in combination with other layers of silks, stitchIng, cutting away sections and fraying.

Below is another piece I am working on, from side on. It has 625 pins holding all the 1 inch squares in place until I am completely happy with the arrangement. Yes, there are 625 pieces to sew onto the canvas!

Pins 1

I had the great pleasure last weekend to attend a workshop by UK Shibori Artist, Jane Callender,  Jane presented two Shibori and Indigo dyeing workshops for WAFTA as well as a very comprehensive lecture on repeat pattern making and the Indigo Dyeing process. The workshop was a great immersion into many stitching, clamping and wrapping techniques by a master practitioner. I like many others, left the workshop wishing I could spend a few more days exploring all the techniques.

Shibori organza

Above is one of my workshop samples on silk organza, still holding the folds from the stitching. Prior to being washed.