Friday, June 30, 2006

Inspirational Reading

Sometime earlier in the week, when I was up to my elbows in printer innards, it was a welcome distraction to receive a phone call from a librarian at Woy Woy library asking if I would be willing to give a "quilt and book" seminar in August. Apparently my talk at Kincumber branch in March was pronounced a great success in regional library circles and I am delighted to be asked back. (10.30am, 10 August 2006, Woy Woy Library - all welcome!)

I've never begrudged spending money on books and quilting books are no exception. I have amassed a modest library of my own and here is a peek of some of my favourites...

When I first started quilting, I did not attend any classes but taught myself from books. Spectacular Scraps and Successful Scrap Quilts were among my first acquisitions. Straight-forward, no-nonsense Aussie directions; simple repetition of shapes; wonderful colour photos. You can see the influence in my first quilts, Tropical Spectrum and Autumn Prelude:

The Ultimate Quilting Book by Maggi McCormick Gordon contains a bunch of quilting tips but I love it for the showcase of historical quilts from a range of sources. The antique quilt on page 46 inspired me to make Vintage:

I picked up Free Expression: the art and confessions of a contemporary quilter by Robbi Joy Ecklow at the Quilting Arts stand at the Sydney Quilt Show in 2005. There is much to like about this book but my favourite part is the commentary on free motion quilting and the endorsement that it is actually OK to grip your quilt with your fists. Until I read this affirmation, I was reluctant to demonstrate free motion quilting to others. Now I have no such inhibitions.

The Quilts of Gee's Bend are testament to the creativity and dignity of their makers. How wonderful that quilts so old can look so modern.

I can't wait to get to America next month to see Nancy Crow's new book. Maybe I'll be able to purchase a copy signed by Nancy herself:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Saga of the New Printer

The story of my new colour laser printer goes something like this:

Monday, 19 June - order printer from supplier and request estimated time of delivery

Tuesday, 20 June - supplier presents my cheque to the bank

Wed/Thurs - waiting, waiting, waiting

Friday, 23 June - call supplier for status report. Advised that printer "should be" delivered on Monday

Monday pm - stay at home all morning but no sign of printer. Call supplier. Supplier refers me to shipping company. Shipping company refers me to local depot. Find out that deliveries to Copacabana only take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Grrr.

Tuesday am - printer delivered but requires assembly. Get stuck on first key step - installation of toner cartridges. Call David - he doesn't fare any better. Call supplier for assistance. Supplier refers me to technical help desk of Fuji Xerox. Very nice tech support guys but still cannot get cartridges installed. Seems to be something wrong with alignment of printer parts. Arrange for technician to come on Wednesday. Technician to contact me to set more precise appointment time. In the meantime, try not to trip over defunct printer in the middle of my studio.

Tuesday pm - call Fuji Xerox desk and highlight that Copacabana is not in Sydney metropolitan area. No problem! Page has gone out to technician and all is OK.

Wednesday lunchtime - deafening silence all morning. Cave in and call Fuji Xerox. Apparently page to technician disappeared into black hole. No way a technician will come today. Arrange for Friday as I am teaching on Thursday.

Wednesday pm - really want to print out teaching notes for my Making Waves workshop. David and I tackle the printer again. Printer seems to have better attitude and we manage to install cartridges. Next step is to install printer drivers. Instruction manual says do not connect USB cable until printer driver is installed on computer. Printer driver installation wizard says it cannot locate printer [because USB is not connected!]. Call Fuji Xerox help desk and get printer driver installed. Try to print sample document. Clunk, clunk, clunk. Error message reads "install black cartridge". Open front flap - black cartridge sticking out at ominous angle and refuses to budge. Call David from main house on mobile while keeping Fuji Xerox help desk on land line. After much prodding, poking, cursing - finally get printer functioning. Cancel technician visit for Friday.

All in all, not a very auspicious start. And no, I didn't get any sewing done today.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Back to Basics

Despite lots of inspiration and good intentions, I've been struggling a little with execution since I have been back in my studio. After a two month break, I feel a little rusty so I decided to tackle something straight forward and satisfying:

This is a variation of the Single Star Wreath quilt that I made for a friend last Christmas. The Single Star Wreath pattern, in turn, was designed as a simplified version of my Christmas Star Wreaths quilt. I like the illusion of circles without any curved piecing.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I knew that my Synchronicity quilt was going to feature as a project in Down Under Quilts but I had forgotten that it would be so soon! and I certainly didn't know that it was destined to be a small inset on the cover:

It's always a thrill to see one of my quilts published and I find the process of project writing quite interesting. You don't realise how many things you do instinctively/automatically until you go through the discipline of trying to set out each step in the quiltmaking process in a clear and logical fashion.

This is the 7th project that I have had published in an Australian magazine. If you have ever made a quilt based on one of my projects, I'd love to see your variation.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


If you were reading my blog earlier in the year, then you may recall this post about attending the New Quilt Exhibition and being especially impressed by the works of Jan Clark. Well, there's another treat in store at Wollombi in early July:

Waving Whales

Yesterday's memorable visitor waved his way across the bay:
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chocolate Mint Slice

I admit that I've been known to partake in a chocolate mint slice or two in my time but the inspiration for this piece was actually this Google earth aerial image of the French countryside that my brother Rowan sent me earlier in the year:

I'm sure if I am going to continue with the experimental piece any further but sure wish I had a chocolate mint slice to munch on while I think about it.

And another one

OK, I am not ever going to win any nature photography award, and the distance is clearly more than my 12x zoom can cope with, but I couldn't resist this morning's early visitor:

Fuzzy evidence of tail flipping, whale showoffery:

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Parade of Visitors

Not that you can tell from these photos, but there has been a veritable parade of whales traversing the bay today. Sometimes, all you can see is a spout of water. Other times, they are doing the flippy tail or quasi-somersault thing. Of course, the more spectacular stuff happens when my hands are full or the camera is out of reach but you get the idea:

And here is the invitation to the North Shore Craft Exhibition where some of my quilts will be on display:

My quilts will accompany the works of 38 or so other artists in a range of mediums including glass, pottery, ceramics and textiles.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Feeling better

My fever broke this morning. My stomach is still gurgly but I am tentatively back in my studio... Here are some sample blocks that I have put together from the "wildberry" fabric pack that I am offering in conjunction with my Colour Rhapsody workshops:

As you will have gathered, I adore batik fabrics and use them in many of my quilts. Very few Australian patchwork stores stock a good range of batiks but favourable mention must go to Leesa at Chandler's Cottage. I came across Leesa's stand at the Sydney Quilt Show last week and was very impressed by her selection of batiks and the sympathetic pairing she has made of batiks and oriental themed fabrics. I supplemented my stash with a bunch of fat quarters. Who knows what damage I could have done if I had discovered her stand earlier on!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh no, I really must be sick

Today has being marked as a sewing/studio day for weeks and I've been looking forward to it so much. I decided to ease in gently with some samples for my forthcoming Colour Rhapsody workshop but only got as far this trio of blocks before slinking away to my bed feeling nauseaous (sp?) and chilled. I couldn't even console myself with a spot of whale watching (I saw six frolicking in the bay yesterday) because:
(1) it is raining; and
(2) I promptly went to sleep.
As is typical for any day time sleep episodes for me, I have woken up feeling even worse. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, June 19, 2006

My First [Small] Exhibition - Coming Soon!

This bowl was a birthday gift from my Amy (my sister) and Paul (her husband). I carried it home from London as hand luggage and am very glad that it is still in one piece. It is much too nice to hide in a cupboard so I am keeping it in my studio to hold my small collection of artist trading cards.

I am very partial to glass objects, especially those that combine beautiful form with function. When I was looking for small house gifts to give to our home exchange hosts, I set off to the two gallery stores of The Society of Arts & Crafts of New South Wales situated in the historic area of downtown Sydney known as "The Rocks". I was not disappointed as I found some small glass platters with a blue wave motif - perfect for reminding our friends of their time at the beach at Copacabana.

I got to talking with the staff and, to cut a long story short, was invited to join in the forthcoming exhibition of The North Shore Craft Group Inc:

North Shore Craft Exhibition:
from Wednesday 19 July (opening night)
to Sunday 23 July 2006
Kur-ring-gai Town Hall,
11886 Pacific Highway, Pymble, Sydney

The dates clash with when I will be attending a improvisations workshop with Nancy Crow in Ohio so I will not be able to participate in person. Nevertheless, I am very excited about the opportunity to share my quilts with a wider audience.

My next job is to design and print a bunch of new flyers and business cards. I've been planning on buying a colour laser printer for such projects for a while (my inkjet printer makes great pictures but is much too greedy with cartridges). Imagine my delight when I had time to read the newspaper this morning and saw an advertisement announcing a $200 cashback offer on my preferred model - a Fuju Xerox Docuprint C525A. This means the printer will cost me A$450 instead of A$650 - a discount not to be sneezed at. Now to reorganise my studio so that I can fit it in. Will I ever get back to my sewing machine?!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This Week's Magic Moments

Quilt show week is always exhausting but there have been some magic moments including:
  • seeing Margo Hardie, the winner of Best in Show, overcome the pain and discomfort of a recent injury to attend the last day of the show; don a fluro pink rosette bearing the words "Prize Winner - talk to me about my quilt" and hold court in a wheelchair in front of her quilt with a large, admiring audience;
  • having complete strangers walk up to me to say that they had discovered my website and/or blog and enjoyed my quilts;
  • spending two hours demonstrating machine quilting in the guild's demonstration area - my first time back at a sewing machine in nearly two months!;
  • meeting fellow bloggers or Squilters;
  • talking to Dianne Firth, the winner of the Contemporary Art Quilt award for her stunning quilt The Scallop, and finding out that she sews all her quilts on the dining room table after her family has finished their meal;
  • having my Synchronicity quilt returned to me by the editor of Down Under Quilts (it will be a featured project later in the year). When I showed it to the friends I was staying with in Sydney during the show, two year old Eleanor immediately rushed off to find her colour book and returned pointing to the rainbow :-) ; and

  • sleeping in my own bed last night - bliss!
I'm about to reacquaint myself with my husband and home now but the blog should be back on track for the next few weeks at least...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Prizes for Guessing

what I've been doing for the past 48 hours. Quilt show stuff, quilt show stuff, quilt show stuff...but it's all been worthwhile as our awards ceremony and opening day of the Sydney Quilt Show went extremely smoothly. You can now view images of the prize winning quilts online HERE. Although more traditional style quilts seem to dominate the prize winning ranks (including the Best of Show), there are a broad cross-section of member quilts on exhibition including an interesting retrospective of contemporary quilts.

As part of my role as Exhibition Secretary, I have been reviewing quilt show statistics and was heartened to see that 99 of the 377 entries in this year's show are from first time entrants. Furthermore, we received a record number of entries in the junior quiltmaker categories. 15 year old Ben Pearce was awarded first prize in the Junior Member B category (13-18 years) and another guy took out second prize in the Junior Member A category (up to 12 years) so it's not a girls only affair.

Now that everything is set up, I'm look forward to taking some quiet time to review all of the quilts - they are even more fabulous (and, in some cases, finished!) than the entry form photos that I looked at earlier in the year . I'm also looking forward to meeting lots of quiltmakers and fellow bloggers. Already I have bumped into Dale and Rooruu but I know there are others out there...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Incidental Exercise

I am the kind of person that takes stairs rather than escalators; walks down (and Up!) stairs to get between floors in office buildings; and will take the stairmaster home from popping down to Copacabana shops. So I embrace incidental exercise but I got more than I bargained for yesterday printing prize certificates for the Sydney Quilt Show...

I keep my printer at about knee level so as to maximise desk space and the cutting area in my stuido (and no, there will not be any pictures as my studio is a complete mess). This set up generally works very well but I had forgotten that my printer does not reliably grip onto thicker grade material. Consequently, for each and every one of the 120+ certificates grinding through my inkjet, I had to squat down and hand guide the paper at the start of printing the certificate. And so my thighs and behind are aching a little this morning.

Shortly I will be off to the show for set-up day, a grand logistical event. I also spent yesterday preparing the web pages for the prize winning quilts. Results will be posted ASAP after the awards ceremony on Wednesday morning 14 June (Sydney time). So check out the guild's website then. I don't mean to be a tease but there are some very delightful quilts to inspire you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

And another thing...

Did you know that in the Yorkshire Dales, milk can be delivered to your door in glass MILK BOTTLES?! Now there is a blast from the past (and I'm feeling every one of my 40 years). Unfortunately, due to mobile phone reception difficulties, we were not able to make contact with the local milkman to arrange a holiday delivery.

I couldn't sleep last night. No, it is not jet lag but excitement as today is judging day for the Sydney Quilt Show. We have 370+ quilts for judging so it will be a long day for the judges and the guild committeee. I needed to put a hanging sleeve on one of my entries so I finally got to the sewing machine yesterday. After six weeks away from the machine, it felt VERY strange and my seams were kind of wobbly. Just don't tell the judges.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

English Charms

Please excuse this final batch of holiday snaps but with preparations in full swing for the Sydney Quilt Show, I haven't been able to survey/stroke my stash since I got back let alone get near a sewing machine!

As you may have gathered, it rained every single day of our stay in the Yorkshire Dales. Fortunately it did not rain ALL day and we are hardy souls. We did get out and about. This is the famous Malhalm Cove, a geological limestone feature which was practically just up the road:

This was the view from the top:

And this will surely end up in a quilt sometime:

During the bank holiday weekend, Malhalm Village held a "safari" which I gather was kind of a scavenger hunt with questions, clues and a worksheet for children to complete. This year's safari had a dinosaur theme and just look at these charming creations that schools and community groups had created:

The English are mad about gardening and these saucer-size poppies were devine (those are raindrops not dew). I also saw lots of blousy peonies but didn't manage to snap any photos:

And finally to prove that I as actually there (and look what a little moisture does to my hair!):

Friday, June 09, 2006

On Art Matters

Since I was last in London in 1999, the Tate Modern, a gallery of international modern and contemporary art, has opened. And so on Monday morning, my sister, David and I decided to go and take a look. Unfortunately, we were too early for the Kadinsky exhibition which opens on 22 June but:
" Tate Modern's first rehang in 5 years is now open. A range of displays present dialogues between artists past and present, exploring how major movements relate to earlier artistic practice, and how later artists have responded to the great innovations of twentieth-century art."
We accompanied a guide for a 45 minute tour of the States of Flux "hub" with a particular focus on the early twentieth-century movements Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. The guide was very interesting and definitely helped to make some of the more abstract works (such as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors) more accessible but nothing particularly engaged my attention (not even this variation of one of my favourite quilting blocks - the pinwheel).

The feeling of dissatisfaction continued as we wandered around the Material Gestures wing which, amongst other works, features the brooding canvasses of the Seagram Murals by Mark Rothko. Afterwards, I tried to pinpoint the source of my disappointment. All that I can come up with is that so many of the featured works were very stark. After all the wonderful colours of the wildflowers in France and the countryside in England, the absence of saturated colour left me cold.

We then considered going to the Tate Britain where a collection "six footer" Constable landscapes is currently on exhibition. But I was feeling kind of grumpy after the morning's activities and baulked at the 10 pound (A$25+) entry fee. Instead David returned to the Natural History Museum (where we had visited the day before) and Amy and I crossed the road to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Knowing that our attention spans were somewhat diminished and that we had a limited amount of time, Amy and I decided to focus on the textile wing of the V & A. En route, we passed through a display of "pop art" which was infinitely more interesting than the pop art we saw at the Tate Modern and included a piece by Bridget Riley. If you are not familiar with Bridget Riley, then do take a look at some of these images
. She does amazing things with lines, shape, colour and proportion. Some of the black and white stuff is a little headache inducing but the precision of her work is awesome.

The textile displays were also suitably restorative - a rich treasure trove of silks, lace, and tapestries. I particularly enjoyed the gallery of a dozen or so 20th/21st century woven wall hangings. The closest that I got to seeing quilts was this book in the gallery shop:

But the Sydney Quilt Show is coming up this week so I will soon be getting my quilt fix! In the meantime, there are a few Exhibition Secretary tasks to attend to...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Joys of Flying

Home at last! While I do not generally suffer from jet lag, I still am not a fan of long-haul flights. I try to dress comfortably but I often wish I could just wear my PJs especially this yummy pair of flannel PJs:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summer Dressing

London turned on another sparkling day so we strolled through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens before doing some Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge and Kensington High Street. We didn't venture into Harrods or Harvey Nichols but it reminded me that we took shelter in Harvey Nics in Edinburgh when it was raining one time. I've never been much of a fashionista but when I saw these layered chiffon dresses ("just browsing, thank you"), I did momentarily wish that I had the occasion (and the bank balance) to wear such a frolic:

The faintly patchwork-inspired dresses are from Scottish designer, Jonathan Saunder's - Spring 2006 ready to wear collection.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

London Turns It On

Today is a 23+C degree sunny day in London (gasp!) which goes some way to assauge the inundation we experienced in the North Country. We are staying at my sister Amy's place and decided to take a boat ride down the Thames to Greenwich. On our way to the wharf, we crossed the Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace, and unexpectedly encountered a rehearsal for the Trooping of the Colour/ Queens Birthday celebrations coming up later in the month. The pageantry associated with the Royal family is legendary and this was certainly a spectacle:

Yesterday we visited the British Museum and I thought I would share these three photos and reintroduce a more quilty flavour to my blog. Here are some medieval tiles from Yorkshire. I love the pattern and the colours:

These a some microscopic images of ancient woods used in Egyptian mummies and tombs:

And this indistinct photo features a door sill carved as a carpet (Assyrian circa 645-640 BC). I was very struck by the texture of this carving:

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with my blog while I have been travelling. I hope to have a chance to post some more photos before we leave England. Thereafter, I expect my postings will be more regular again.