Saturday, August 16, 2008

"The Gourd"

Now you may wonder why I am so excited about a gourd! There are a couple of reasons, one being that I have never worked with a gourd before and the second that I have signed up for the Seven Deadly Sins workshop by Marilyn Radzat.
Years ago a friend gave me a gourd that was sitting idle on his garage roof drying out, I think I mentioned that in the UK I had never managed to get one to dry properly because of all the rain, so he gave me this one. I am not saying here it can't be done in the UK, just that I had never managed it, and Cornwall is renowned for being on the damp side. As I mentioned this was a long time ago and it sat out the back of the house drying and doing it's thing then going all those weird and wonderful colours that they do when the mould gets to them. 
When I saw the Seven Deadly Sins workshop I just knew that "the gourd" was meant just for this purpose.
Now what do you do with them once you have them dried out and mouldy?, apparently clean them. Having no idea how to do this I did a google search and came up with this great youtube video that shows you exactly what to do. It really is easy and there's some strange satisfaction watching all that gunk come off to reveal a thing of beauty. 

So here it is "The gourd"

 The workshop starts in September and I can't wait to start transforming this into, hopefully a work of art. I will be trying to grow some of these beauties in the back yard when spring finally arrives.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Something from Nothing

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings. 
Sunday afternoon and still cold and windy, and I should be working on a quilt, but got the urge to get out some of the paints and angelina I bought for Christmas and haven't had a chance to play with yet.  I have finally got myself a mobile phone and itouch, so fancy making some nice covers for them both. During the week I squared up the Chaos Theory  quilt squares and ended up with a pile of scrapes that were just too nice to throw away. I used these scraps as the base of my mixed media piece fusing them to some timtex with vlisofix. I have a large tile on my worktable that I use for my clay work, but it also make a wonderful surface to take mono prints from.  I used some lumiere paints and mica powders on the tile then took a print using a nappy liner. After patting down the liner I noticed I had a lovely glittery hand that look so nice. I rushed in to get the camera, noticing that there was a bit of a storm coming and the washing was out of course. Took me a while to work out how to take a picture of my own hand, need two for this, but then remembered the timer on the camera, all the while the sky is getting darker. After finally getting a picture of my hand, I laid a piece of calico on the tile and cleaned it up keeping my hand nice and flat, and like magic had a great print of my hand in all the lovely glittery blue paint. 

Approaching weather, doesn't look much, but did it rain!! and just managed to get the photos taken of my dirty hand before it started

The camera doesn't pick up all the lovely colours.

Love this print and sure I'll use it in some future project

The mono print that started it all. didn't even use it for the piece I was planning to do. Again the camera hasn't picked up the colours very well.

The fabric strips have been stamped, covered with angelina and some shapes cut from silk rods added to the surface.

More angelina has been added and machine stitching done all over the surface. Photos to follow of the finished phone and itouch covers.

Christmas in July Workshop

A few weeks ago the ladies came up to Main Creek for their annual Christmas in July Quilting Weekend. As you can see the weather was crisp and clear, with a lovely morning fog and the hint of a frost.

The resident ducks soon came out to enjoy a bit of morning sunshine.

And the girls were quickly sewing away on their quilting projects.

Some take it more seriously than others !

And here I am in my role as teacher, do you honestly think they listen too me!!

After a hard day of sewing, the girls come up for their Christmas dinner, dressed for the occasion and anticipating the arrival of Santa

Who never fails to arrive, growing slightly larger and this year a bit squarer round the middle.

Everyone is delighted with their gifts, and already planning for next years weekend of eating sewing and complete hilarity.

To book your own weekend retreat e mail for a brochure and visit Retreat2Maincreek to check for available dates

Sorry but Santa not supplied, you have to bring your own!!

WF Project

I have joined a group project to complete a Wendy Froud inspired fairy. This will be my first attempt at a sculpture that is more realistic and I'm sure will be a challenge. After much thought, the character I would like this doll to take has become quite clear to me, I have collected some lovely silk fabric which I will hand dye and lots of beads and other embellishments, now i just have to find the time to complete her!!
After many many attempts, far more than I care to remember I finally have a head and torso done. The facial expression is very close to what I envisioned for this character, so hopefully she won't take off in a completely different direction. The neck is a bit long, but looking at the armature, so are her arm and legs, so hopefully this will give her a long and graceful figure


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Indigo Blues

Karen and I have been dyeing with natural indigo for just over two years now. After many trials and tribulations, we have finally found a recipe and process that works for us and produces some lovely indigo fabrics which we have developed into quilt kits. We use a wide range of techniques to produce a variety of patterns and textures, using paste resist, traditional tying and shibori and clamping.

Applying paste in a hand drawn design

Applying paste with original batik wood blocks

Stitch resist, takes a lot of time and patients but produces lovely results, unfortunately I can't find the picture of this piece when it has been dyed. This picture does show you the stitching with the diagram.

A closer view of the stitches, the order and direction of the stitching is important to allow the fabric to be drawn up to create the resist.

This is a picture of 'the flower' that forms on the top of a healthy vat. This is our favourite vat and contains about 200 liters of indigo. The flower is removed before dyeing and the reduced indigo below is the colour of a good English larger.

Here you can see our very complex dipping devices! 
The first shows fabric clamped between squares, only the edges are exposed to the dye giving a bold chequered finish. If you look closely at the second picture, you can just make out the hand drawn pattern beneath the dye.


And here are two quilts that have been completed at Main Creek Retreats, using our range of hand dyed indigo cottons

Friday, August 1, 2008

Play Day Canes

Recently I went to a "Play Day" hosted by Wilma Simmons, our local accredited clay tutor. These are wonderful days where we all get to play with Wilma's extensive array of tools and resources and benefit from her expertise. I made these blue and white canes, being just a bit partial to blue. They were  too large for jewellery and I'm not much of a jewellery wearer any way, so I decided to cover a box using the canes like mosaic tiles. I didn't want too many colours competing with the blue and white so used just gold clay to compliment them. I'm quite happy with the way the box turned out, and will get around to lining it soon with a piece of indigo shibori fabric. Wilma has a wonderful Etsy store.

Fishing Trip

Last school holidays we headed north for a fishing trip to Lake Awonga and Cania Gorge Dam. With the recent rains both dams had risen and we were hoping for some good fishing.  This trip turned out to be the best one yet, with fish feeding right in the shallows of the rising water. We fished surface poppers and fly for a whole week, right through the day and would go back to the cottage leaving fish still on the chew. The weather was perfect, and the fishing unbelievable, was very hard to pack up and go home. 

Steve's big bass from Cania
The drive from Awonga to Cania through Many Peaks.
Another nice Bass from Cania
Fly fishing in perfect conditions at Cania
Yes, another Cania bass
Saratoga caught on Steve's own fly pattern
View of Cania from the lookout.
Looking over the dam wall.
Looking through the quarry, the water hasn't been this high for years!!
Evening on Lake Awonga

Perfect conditions at Lake Awonga
An amazing sky on the drive home.

Clay Beginnings

After attending a demonstration at my doll club on Polymer clay, I have become fascinated with this product, and bought myself some clay and books in my xmas goodie package. I then got myself a copy of Mareen Carlsons book Fairies, Gnomes & Trolls: Create a Fantasy World in Polymer Clay and just had to try a troll.  This was a huge learning experience for me and like most things, I couldn't stick to the directions in the book and he took off in a slightly different direction.  We were having lots of very wet weather at the time and I think this influenced me greatly in the end result.  He went through a hard time, getting a burnt belly and breaking his legs off more times than I like to remember, but I'm very happy with the way he turned out. The finishing touch will be some lovely fat raindrops sliding down his umbrella.  I was extremely proud and honoured when he was featured on the home page of my favourite yahoo group Beginners Polymer Clay Art Group