Thursday, 29 May 2008
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Monday, 26 May 2008
After the gold rushes, and in the early 20th century this town and the surrounding area supported as many as 70 thousand people with many small villages, schools, businesses , numerous pubs, and a large mobile workforce of timber cutters and potato diggers. The resident population now is about 700 people. A highlight of the weekend was a tour organised by the Historical Society where we were taken to see the few remaining potato digger’s huts on private farms, which are usually not accessible – small timber or brick single roomed huts used by the itinerant diggers as they moved from farm to farm to dig the potatoes by hand. Most have now disintergrated or been burnt down, but once there were more than 80 around the town. It would have been a cold and lonely life, and we were told many were heavy drinkers, perhaps to help cope with their hardships.
I am without my sewing machine for at least a week – it went today to be serviced, and to have a small electronic glitch sorted out. I guess I can cope without it for that time, as I have a couple of old ones – an Elna Lotus and a Featherweight if I really need to sew something, but the sewing room still looks very empty without it. While in Bendigo I went to see the exhibition of Fashion in the Age of Queen Victoria at the Art Gallery, a collection of about 27 dresses and accessories from the Darnell Collection which is open until July 20th. It is well worth seeing for anyone interested in textiles or sewing. The dresses are exquisite and beautifully made with extraordinary embellishments. The other thing is they are tiny; my estimate would be that none of the women who wore these garments would have been over five feet tall, and had waist measurements that are hard to believe. My favourite piece was a mourning mantle, black and heavily embellished with fine black braid, embroidery, beads and fringing.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
I can report that three buses of quilting women did much to help the local economy, however I was reasonably self controlled and did not shop like those who needed to post their many purchases ahead of them because they would not fit in their case, but this pile of lovely stuff is the booty with which I came home. There are about 30 fat quarters in that lot, plus some yardage, and some hand dyed felt as well as wonderful Oliver Twist embroidery threads. Some were gifts from suppliers or the retreat organisers and the remainder purchased at very reduced costs - for example with the spools of threads, it was buy one get one free and most of the fabric was great value at $2 a fat quarter for a bundle of ten. The book called Textile Artistry came from a second hand book shop in Fremantle and cost $10 - edited by the late Valerie Campbell-Harding, it was produced by the British Embroiderer's Guild in 1996 and is full of useful information and great ideas. It was a very lucky find amongst some very ordinary craft books on a shelf in the back corner of the shop.
Now to put it all to good use........
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Monday, 12 May 2008
Having described myself as a needlewoman in the previous post, I'm almost ashamed to show this tatty piece of mending that was achieved last night as I watched the amazing ABC program about Tim Jarvis following in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson. I think I must have been feeling the cold in my toe in sympathy, as I suddenly decided to fix the longstanding hole in my most loved and disreputable Ugg boot - made by my collie Maggie when she was feeling frisky one day while I was out - maybe payback for being left at home? Now it just makes me smile whenever I look down!
The other is the result of a workshop held at my quilt guild. Yes, I know it is another bag, this time to be used to hold my knitting because it is quite tall, and rather stiff - it might have been softer with a lighter batting and less quilting, but it is a design that is likely to be made again. It was a good class, with a helpful teacher and lots of laughs with a bunch of fellow sewers.
Sunday, 11 May 2008
Sharon B’s May challenge relates to the question of what we, who work with textiles, call ourselves and why. Are we artists, craft makers, quilters or something entirely different? This is a vexed and thought provoking question, open to individual interpretation – so here goes....
I have never been comfortable calling myself an artist of any sort – to me the term implies possessing a natural talent and the ability to produce a real piece of visual art; skills can be taught and one can learn to make items that follow design principals and are pleasing, but it is a sometimes a struggle for those with less ability. Despite coming from a family rich in this natural artistic talent, I’m sorry to say it missed me entirely but has surfaced again in the next generation. I may be creative, but I have to work hard at it.
I’m also hesitant to call the sort of textile work I do “craft”, as that term reminds me of the fabric covered tissue boxes and similar things I used to make a million years ago, and I now consider crass. According to one definition I found, a craftsman is an artisan who practices a handicraft or trade, often in the field of decorative arts, using natural materials such as wood, clay, glass, textiles or metal and his work exhibits craftsmanship – that is, made to a high standard and highly valued.
Over the years I have made clothes, learnt tailoring, embroidery, cross stitch, crewel work, canvas work, machine embroidery, patchwork, and quilting. I guess if I had to use one word, my preferred description of myself would be as a needlewoman because my current textile work involves so many of these different (learnt) skills and relies on attention to detail to produce a good result than the artistic talent I envy in others.
I look forward to see how people interpret this challenge, or whether they use the colour palette below instead. At this stage I do not have any great ideas, and these pastel colours are not those I might normally use, except maybe the blues.............
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
The theme for April’s TIF was change, and for the past month I have been thinking about the idea of change, what it could mean and how one might interpret this subject for the challenge. I thought of change as opportunity, I thought of seeds changing as they grow into something quite different, I thought of how we change raw materials into quilts and textile art, how metamorphosis occurs and how caterpillars become beautiful butterflies and ugly ducklings elegant swans. I considered the lifestyle changes people make – the sea change or tree change as they move to new and different areas. I thought of change being constant, how some are resistant to change, about organisational change, how things often go in circles, and the saying about things that go around, come around again. I thought about climate change, the warming of earth, the rising sea levels, the lack of water in Australia, and the worldwide shortage of food supplies and other resources as our global population continues to increase. I also thought about the changes that happen as one ages, not only the loss visual acuity, increasing aches and pains but the supposed wisdom one that comes with life’s experience.
I gave up trying to figure out a clever textile interpretation for change, and decided in the end to use the colours – lovely earthy browns and creams – the colour of owls. I have always had a soft spot for these birds; in fact I have a small collection of owl ornaments collected on my travels here and overseas. This is the piece I made, very simple and although he looks a bit fierce, I rather like him. As owls are often spoken of possessing wisdom, he suddenly seemed an appropriate symbol, and I was reminded of the Serenity prayer – “...Grant me the serenity to accept those things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I hope you like him.