Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Still thinking about apples – obsessing some might say.

But also working on stitches and playing with perspective – sampling with running stitch – here is a small desert scene.

and here is a small sample based on reeds.

In both cases I coloured white quilters muslin with fabric crayons, set the colour with the iron and then started stitching :-)

Monday, November 24, 2014

An Apple a Day

An Apple a Day is a personal challenge to use a theme in mixed media over the next 12 months = featuring the humble apple.

In the first fortnight I have -
  •   drawn apples roughly – more a doodle than a quick sketch
  •  done a quick sketch on an envelope
  • embroidered a tiny apple in chain stitch on a crazy patch piece I am working on
  • added apple blossom inspired by blossom photos and motifs sourced from the internet – and then discovered I should have used white tinged with pink rather than pink if I was going for uber realism
  •  stamped using ink pads and fun foam – see Stitchers Plus blog for what we all did as a quick exercise.  
  •  actually carved a couple of stamps and played with acrylic paint
  • stemmed stitched another apple in blue onto that crazy patch piece
  •  played with stitch on a stamped fabric apple, and
  • spent some time thinking/looking/reading about apples in myth, legend and religion.  

In the course of doing this I have read quite a bit of poetry including Robert Frost's work After Apple picking which I have cut and pasted below so you can read it with ease.

After Apple-Picking
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


A fortnight late but here are a few smiling faces which tell it all.  Click here to see the post which tells what we did on the day.

Again - lots of thanks to Wilma Simmons of Empress Wu Designs for lending us her message stick doll tutorial.  Take time to visit Wilma's blog - she is generous in what she shares and her work is fantastic.

wonderful messy creation happening here

Guest of honour with her hand puppet

I think there's a needle in my hand!

I really coverted this bit of hand dyed gauze - then realised it was almost the same colours as the dress I was wearing.

Right into the swing of it - 2 stick dolls each :-)

I have more photos on my phone which someone kindly sent me... I will post them when I work out how to get them from there to here.

Have a great week everyone... I am starting on my first round of Christmas breakups today with lunch and laughter guaranteed at Stitchers Plus.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Arty party & workshop

Had two fantastic weekends in a row – too much enjoyment left me exhausted and I have only got round to writing.     On Saturday 2 November I hosted a fund raising arty party.  We all had a ball!   It was quite a warm day but thankfully our venue was fairly cool.

 Wilma Simmons of Empress Wu Designs gave permission to use her Message Stick Doll tutorial as an activity.   Whilst we were waiting for people to arrive we all made a name tag.   Some were more exotic than others but it got us doing something whilst waiting for everyone to arrive;

Then we moved on to making the doll.  First we played with air drying clay to make a face.  Most of us opted to use molds in the first instance and then had a bash at working a face in our fingers – everyone made great faces - all looked different by the time they had paint/hair/other adornments.

Once the faces were made we set about making a body.  Sticks were selected and wrapped to give a bit of padding and then wrapped with cloth and adorned by their makers J.   Here is a photo of one of Wilma's dolls:

Sadly my camera played up and I am hoping to get a few photos of the event soon.

And of course there was afternoon tea laid on my nearests and dearests (husband, son & daughter).   We were spoilt for choice with banana cake, ricotta cake, exotic chocolate patty pans, cheese, fruit and sandwiches (not to mention the odd party pie and sausage roll).

The day came to an end with a massive subtropical downpour – thunder claps directly overhead made the iron roof in the hall shake, lots of lightening and rain that came down at such an angle it drove itself up the paving in waves. 

Sundaywas a much cooler day after the storm & I instructed at a garden art workshop at Azures Den.    It is a cafĂ©/gift shop/gallery which has a lovely art space at the rear and that’s where the class was held.    It is inspiring to be sitting in a room with original art works all around you and getting to do your own.

A fantastic group of ladies came and had a go at something which was not the norm for them.   We started with the idea that we would make a small garden statute - here is the sample we had:

By the time the ladies variously decided to make their statutes very well endowed (boobs), make it pregnant, ditch the turban, play with hair concepts or use little fabric hardener we had a wonderful and eclectic array of statues.  Even though we started out with the same concept and material everyone made something different which reflected their personality.   They were outstanding pieces.  Sadly, my camera played up & I couldn’t take photos.  Here are some that Taryn took for me:

Of course the day included afternoon tea.   Azures Den offers high teas so we were in for a treat.   Amongst the treats was a vanilla slice which was to die for!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Emerging artist redefined - exhibition of works by artist under 18 & over 35

A definition of emerging at Seaview Gallery, Seaview Street, Dulwich Hill NSW 
22- 26 October 1914  11 am - 4 pm
Opening 22 October 2014  6.00 pm to 8.00 pm

Bettleman - Apoxy sculpt and fabric sculpture with wire armature and Queensland Black Bean seed pods - 55 cm tall

Woman in Black - Air dry clay and fabric sculpture - 60 cm tall

I dropped off the above two works at  the Inaugural Inner west Women's Shed intergenerational exhibition themed Emerging.   It stemmed from a concept that there are on going calls across the art world for emerging artists to enter competitions and exhibitions where the artists must be between 18 - 35 years.

The aim of the exhibition is to open the opportunity for artists younger than 18 years and older than 35 years and to redefine the exhibition of emerging.  I definitely fall in the second group and welcome the discussion.  Many like me are of a generation where you got a 'real' job which you would hold for the rest of your life.  For me it was not until later in life that I had the confidence to make the time and give myself permission to make exploration into arts and crafts.

All entries will be eligible for the peoples choice award.  I saw some really interesting works when I dropped my pieces off .   I think it will be a good exhibition and commend it to you - go visit and vote if you can.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pop Up Exhibition

Form #1

I spent the day moving between my Garden Art stall and my exhibition space at the Croydon Park Street Fair on Saturday.   The statue above was one of the pieces in the exhibition space.   I had smaller pieces were on the stall.

It was a beautiful day and I got sun burnt standing at in the sun listening to music, chatting to happy people and making small Pot People.  My idea of heaven really.   I gave away more than I sold.  The pot people were a hit and easy to make on the spot.

I was a in a good spot as I was able to direct people to the art space where there were 13 other artists whose work covered a wide spectrum and it made for a high quality varied and interesting exhibition.   I didn't take any happy snaps of the exhibition as it was a little dark inside.

I learnt a couple of lessons from the day - especially in terms of exhibiting.   I had a selection of works in different sorts of media including a couple of art quilts, some embroidered works and my fabric sculptures.  I think I confused viewers and should I be invited to exhibit again will restrain myself and show only one 'type' of work.   Family members manned the space and reported back about what took peoples interest .  It seems that it was fairly well divided between the sculptures and the embroideries.

PS - for those of you  interested in making a Pot Person I will post a photo and instructions shortly. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Garden Art Workshop at Azures Den, Concord NSW

I am rather excited - I have been asked to facilitate a Garden Art Workshop at Azures Den, Cabrabrita Road, Concord.

Azures Den is a cafe, gift shop and art gallery venue which carries (and sold :-)) some of my garden art.

I will be teaching a statute based on this little fellow on Sunday  2 November 2014.

The Garden Guardian stands approximately 45 cms tall.

Art and afternoon tea!  It couldn't get much better in my view.

The workshop starts at 1.00 pm and you will leave at the end of the day with your very own garden statue.    The workshop size will be limited to about ten people so you get the most from your afternoon.

If you want to learn how to make a garden statute this fun worshop is the one for you.

You can find out more details and book your place by contacting Azures Den directly on 02 9736 3358 or online here.

Looking forward to seeing you there.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Salamander Bay

I was looking through photos and reminiscing about  a week spent holidaying at Salamander Bay (north of Newcastle).  It was a very quiet but enjoyable time spent taking in the view from our beachfront window.

Each morning was a delightful passing parade of low flying gulls, rosellas, corellas, pelicans and kookaburras, kayaks and  swimmers.  One morning a pod of dolphins swam past and did a return journey.  They were so close to the shore and it was so unexpected.  Locals told me I was very fortunate to see them.

I took a few photos from the front yard which featured a rather sad palm tree.  I didn’t really see its potential as a design element  until later in the week .  There was also some sort of  fruiting palm and a Norfolk pine which had been trimmed at the lower level and new branches had shot - both of which had lovely textural elements to them. 

I also had time to create an armature for a Paverpol statue and started a male figure.  I found a lovely piece of driftwood for it to stand on and it developed a  tilt.   I still haven't got much further with this statute other than to change it a bit with a view of turning it into a faun type character.  I will get to it again but perhaps not till Christmas holidays.

I the meantime I have been working on two statutes for an exhibition sponsored by the Inner West Womens' Shed in Marrackville.   The entries are due 15/10/14 and the exhibition is on 24/10/14.   Once I know whether they have been excepted and/or when the exhibition opens I will put up a couple of photos.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

circles and spirals

I have a fascination with circles  and spirals – the latter often come into play into my stitching.      
Recently, I have been working on Dorset buttons with a view to incorporating them into a piece.  The buttons formed part of my show and tell at tthe August Stitchers Plus meeting>

I tend to photograph interesting circles – 

or make things with circles -  this is a close up of a tree installation - the circles were originally part of a table cloth which became worn with time and found new life here.

I used paverpol to harden and weatherproof the fabric.  The fabric was strectched over purpose made rings and the paverpol acted as a glue as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

sculpture at Noosa Botanic Gardens

This intriguing piece of marble is at the Noose Botanic Gardens.   Part of an acquisitive prize offered -  the artist is Hew Chee Fong and it is called "The Journey".

It is lovely.  You don't see the detail till you get close.  One side of the marble is polished and the balance rough and, until you get close to it you can 't really spot the stairway to heaven.

If you are interested in other prize winners have a look here.  Thae gardens have a marvelous ampitheatre which sits on the waters edge.  A great spot for a bit of contemplative thinking

Friday, August 15, 2014


Been researching the 1920’s for background and inspiration for a work for the Margaret Oppen Prize – a competition open to members of the Embroiderers’ Guild NSW Inc.  The theme is ‘The Roaring 20s’. 
When the theme was announced my mind immediately jumped to women’s costume and the Chrysler Building in New York.  Picture books were the first thing I looked at when I when to the library and I came home with a glorious tome called Art Deco – The Golden Age of Graphic Art & Illustration by Michael Robinson & Rosalind Ormiston (Flame Tree Publishing).

Since then I have done a little reading and thought I would share a bit of what of I learnt and do a sort of a book review at the same time J.

Over all Art Deco gives a gives a good but brief introduction to the influences of the period and talks about the development of the Art Deco movement in Britain, Europe and America.   It introduces novices like myself to artists, designers and craftsmen of the period.  There is enough information and more than enough images to spike my curiosity.  I will go on and investigate further.

What did I learn from this book?
·         Art Deco was a term first used in the 1960’s  
·         It covers the period between the First and Second World Wars
·         Its heyday depends on which continent you are in
·         That the Art Deco movement was influenced by or drew  upon or was the confluence of a number of artistic styles over time including;
o    oriental influences of Art Nouveau,
o   the success of the fine art poster like that created by Toulouse-Lautrec,
o    industrial changes effecting graph art printing
o   Work by cubist and futurist artists like George Braque, Roal Dufy & Pablo Picasso
o   Interest in graphics and typography leading to new fonts and borders
o   The Ballet Russe
o   And a lot of other things too such as hard defined lines and lots of bold colour. 

It is clear that there was an emphasis on what was regarded as good design, promotion of craftsmanship and it was applied across the board to fine art, graphic art, fashion and textiles, furnishings, consumer goods and architecture.

The book is chock full of enticing images.  It is a glorious visual feast and has sparked some ideas  for the competition which I will go on and play with.

On an art deco vein - I was at the Enmore Theatre not so long ago and it has some wonderful art deco inspiration plastered on its walls which invite exploration too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Playing with Clay

I have been learning to play with clay and practising making faces at Sydney Community College.  I am keen to learn to make my own faces to incorporate into my own fibre art. The course has a focus on mould making.   As is the norm, one term is not enough for me to grasp even the basics so I will be back for another term.

To date I have learnt some basic concepts about working with clay to make a bust.  The first lesson I was taught was to build using tiny pieces of clay to build the form/shape I want and not to smooth the clay but just keep adding.  It is SO hard not to smooth the clay.  I now understand that when I smooth the clay I push the clay around and change my form somewhere else but still it is hard to be disciplined and remember this part of my lesson.

The class has students who have returned after doing one or more terms and it is wonderful to see what they are doing.  I had to keep reminding myself why I was there and not get distracted by other exciting ideas
It is funny how things come together.  I have been experimenting with a number of different media but find I keep coming back to fibre and want to incorporate other media into it.  Lately I have been concentrating on crazy patchwork and fabric collages with a view to incorporating faces into them.   To date I have been using commercial moulds or using the last of some faces made at a workshop with Pearl Moon a few years ago.

In the class I am working on a half face which I can hang on the wall.   If all goes to plan I will create a headdress to go with it.   Still thinking that idea through though.    J

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bees & Synchronicity

I have been thinking about bees for some time as I have had an idea sitting in the back of my head that I want to put into/onto cloth. And, I have started drawing bees and thinking about how I can morph the drawing into a child bee (or  a bee child).

 Last Tuesday I went to Lateral Stitchers.   As a design and jump off exercise a member  put up the idea 'round and round'.  This was brainstormed and lots of words were put forward to reflect round and round. The idea is to create small fibre work which reflects this theme.

This is where the synchronicity bits fits in.  As I have been thinking on 'round and round' and I thought about bees dancing directions to a pollen/nectar find.

Mr Google helped me find this lovely video with some amazing close up photography of bees by Bill Moyers, an American journalist and public commentator:  click here for a look.  Bill is also a social commentator and has a few salient points to make about what people have done to the world, the effect on bees and the follow on effect it has on us.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Children's Workshops & Public Art - Let me Take a Leaf Out of your Book

Most kids seem to take to stitching like a duck to water.  Wendy and I have run a couple of workshops for children (and adults) to involving them in art project involving the Guild and the City of Canada Bay.  This  links with the embroidered letters that Guild members have been doing.

Tree of Knowledge - letters stitched by members of
the Embroiderers' Guild NSW
This aspect of the  Public Art project involves encouraging members  our community to stitch something which reflects something they have read.   Their stitched " leaf"  will be applied to a fabric covered tree form (think of a conical shape like a Christmas Tree) and live at Concord Library

I took a photo of the table set up at for the very first kids workshop but after that was way too busy to take any happy snaps.

I came home tired and happy.  The participants enjoyed themselves.

I am about to create a new page containing more information about how to go about making a leaf for those that have an inkling to have a go themselves.  I will post it shortly.

In the interim email me if you would like instructions in pdf format.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Big Horizons

I spent a few days in the Wimmera in country Victoria a couple of weeks ago. 

I felt the city lift from shoulders as I drive north from Melbourne.  The landscape flattens and the horizons grow larger and lower.  The grain silos stand high in the sky and the roads are long and straight.  My formative years were spent with horizons and vistas such as this and I feel renewed whenever I am in flat open country.

There are a lot of period houses in  Birchip .  (the town I stayed at) .  The gum trees in the street still had flowers on them and I couldn’t resist taking photos of them.  The camera in my mobile phone makes this so very easy to do.  (I am a late comer to grasping this aspect of phone technology and still cling to my camera – albeit a digital one)

I was delighted to get the opportunity to get up close and personal to the gum blossoms as I am still playing with ideas which have come to mind after reading the poem “Pruning Flowering Gums’ by Lesbia Hartford.

 One night soon I will play with some Makins Clay and see what I can do to make a blossom  or two J.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Seed of an Idea - an outdoor fibre tree.

A close up of  motifs
Add cthe tree form I had to wotk with can be clearly seen

Inside looking  out.  It is interesting how different views   give a different look - light from outside drains the colour and makes coverage look sparse.  

I was (and still am) involved in a project at our local Library in a joint project between the Embroiderers' Guild NSW and the City of Canada Bay (my council area) in the creation of 4 tree installations.  The Council created 4 tree forms and sought expressions of interest to fibre artists to create a fibre installation to cover the the forms - one pf which was to live on a first floor balcony.

These are photos of the tree I made to live outside -  it has a western aspect which was challenging - the strong Aussie sun is a cruel mistress when it comes to colour.  The motifs are from  a repurposed table cloth and treated with a water based fabric hardener which is weatherproof.  The colours selected reflect colours used internally.  I used aluminimum wire which is a wonderfully sogft and a breeze to bend.

Thanks to Paverpol Australia for their sponsorship and support in this part of the project.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hussif Crazy Patchwork Challenge

I have taken up Sharon Boggin's challenge to make a crazy patched hussif for myself. Sharon does exquisite work and is an extremely generous stitcher.  I have enjoyed visiting her blog for a number of years - check it out and see what I mean.

A hussif is a sewing roll in which sewing requisites are stored.   I plan to make a book rather than a roll with a soft front and a stiffened back.

I went with an orange theme as my daughter has been working on a major project for her design course at TAFE and there are many bright scraps around.  I didn't factor in what the other colours would do when I patched them all together but I will keep adding more thread, stitches and whatnot and see what comes of it.  I am enjoying just picking up and adding a line here and there.


I will post some  more in about a week and a bit when I have added more stitches and hopefully taken a photo with truer colours.


Not quite a self portrait

Not quite a self portrait
small 8' quiltlet with embroidered hair

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