tree bark quilt

I'm heading to Brisbane tomorrow!

for the Queensland Regional Art Awards Exhibition Opening. I only get one day of freedom, but I'm really looking forward to a few things; I get to catch up with a few of my favourite textile people and check out the galleries, as well as attend the opening. The exhibition is on until the 28th Feb.

Australia Wide Four is also on exhibition in Queanbeyan from next Tuesday. I have a soft spot for Queanbeyan, it's where Linc was born, and the Q is a great venue. You can check out the details here, and I'm super excited that they picked my quilt as the publicity image!

Linc has settled into his preschool and absolutely loves it, so I'm having a guilt-free day working on the templates for the Gallipoli panels as well as trying out some ideas for the creepy crawlies for the hospital commission! The quilts themselves are finished, but not bound or squared off yet, and I've got them rolled up until I'm ready to put the bugs on.


Experiments and first cuts.

Over the last few weeks I've had a few ideas floating around which would need me to make more sculptural textiles. Which sounds good, but is actually a lot harder when I'm determined not to make works that resemble soft toys. My end goal is to make a body for the moths/bugs which would allow them to stand separately from the quilts (like the brooches) on a leg/body structure of resin/clay/concrete/wood/unknown. I've seen other artists working with resin and clay but I know very little about it; obviously the best way forward was to try it out. I'm a big fan of trial and error, you can plan all you like on paper but until you try to actually make something you have no real idea if it's going to work. This was more of a trial experiment but at least I've made a start!

I used a silicon baking tray as a mould, and poured a bottom layer of resin, which worked ok. Then I laid a few different types of textiles bits down and poured another layer on top. Has it worked? Kind of.


The tiny portion of cotton/paint collage down the bottom of the pic was a fail. It didn't stay put as I poured the resin, and it's gone a funny yellow colour.

The gauze, tulle and threads are much more interesting. They've settled throughout the resin, rather than being flat which gives them a 3D and unsupported appearance; which is really tricky to get with textiles. Normally everything needs to be stitched to keep it in place, here you still get the threads and the texture without the stitching. You can see them perfectly clearly, if anything they're shinier and clearer. I can see this as a sculpture/construct made of lots of layers, with fabric and threads in each layer and passing through the layers.


Unfortunately, I only have so many hours and a whole heap of work to do so I think this is probably the end of this experiment for the next little while, although James did point out that you can cast concrete the same way as you can cast resin...

On a more productive note, I've made the first cuts for the three bark quilts - layers one and two are done and I'm half way through layer three.


I found a new grey fabric, it's Italian Wool and very pretty to work with, it's a little lighter than the 2nd layer of Yellow Box, and it has a silver sheen so it should stand up nicely with the other fabrics. I've also found a copper silk which will work with the copper organza, both of them are incredibly yummy and soooo hard to cut up, but worth it :)

I may also have taken over the lounge room again. That new studio cannot come quick enough.


Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a great day, we had a quiet Christmas at home this year and loved it. image

I'm one of those people who loves Christmas before the big day, but afterwards I can't get the tree down fat enough. So by about lunchtime on boxing day we were back to normal, which means I have enough room to get started on the three bark quilts!

I can't wait to get into the new house we are building; it will be brilliant to not have to take over the lounge room for every big project. I've got a room set aside in the new place for a studio, with a little courtyard next to it so I can paint and dye outside. Only a couple of months to go!

So the house is semi tidy and I'm getting things organized for the bark quilts. Thankfully I've already bought all the fabric I need, and it's the good stuff - silk, Italian wool suiting, cashmere, French linen. It's all beautiful to work with.


The blues and golds have come together nicely, it took me ages to find the right ones but I'm glad I spent the extra time getting it right.


i've managed to cut the bottom layer as one continuous piece for all three quilts,   I'm curious to see how long it takes to do each layer for this much quilt!

Busy time of year!

This time of year is mental but in a good way! I've managed to squeeze in the odd bit of sewing around all the fun stuff - we headed to the beach for a few days with another family and I even managed to get something done there! I've been working on JM's Quilt - the quilt is finished now and I'm just doing the binding.

Since JM is finished (to all intents and purposes) I've headed back into moth/bark territory, and I've been making some 'practice' moths. I approached them a little differently, they are all about 15cm across, and they are made to be self-supporting, unlike the ones on the quilts which are sewn directly onto the quilts in parts.

I've made them as brooches, with a tiny felt 'stick' in the abdomen as a support, and copper antennae. The wings are a combination of hand-dyed felt, cashmere, Italian wool, silk and gold lame. Plus some other bits I've forgotten :)


They're handy to take travelling, as everything I need fits into a small box -


We got home from camping on Saturday just in time to meet my brother and sister in law (and little Maggie) who have all come to Cairns for Christmas - OMG this girl is gorgeous, she's so smiley and friendly and loves watching the big kids play.

So she's a bit distracting... not much sewing getting done this week!


Hope you're all having a good run-up to Christmas!

One Step Further

I posted onto Facebook but somehow I forgot to blog about my news from One Step Further - Yellow Box won first prize! I've heard the competition was quite tough this year, and I'm sad that once again we won't be in Melbourne until just after it's closed :( but I've seen some of the other entries online and they look fantastic. Victorian Quilters usually upload a catalogue of all the quilts as well, it's not up yet but when it is you'll be able to find it here:

In case you're able to make it to the exhibition, here are the details:

One Step Further 2014 Contemporary Art Quilts – An open, juried exhibition When: 13th November – 20th December 2014 Where: Whitehorse Art Space, Box Hill Town Hall, Box Hill, Victoria.

And because it's finally on display, I can show you all some pictures!

Yellow Box_23x70in_full Yellow Box, 2014, 180 x 60cm

Yellow Box_detail Yellow Box (detail), 2014, 180 x 60cm

Last day of uni, Sydney (plus Maggie!), and One Step Further.

It's the last day of uni for the year tomorrow! I've been really surprised at how much I've learnt and changed because of uni this year, our lecturer held a trivia quiz last week in class and I actually knew most of the answers, not surprisingly I got the pop art question wrong! Fortunately, James and I are heading to Sydney next week and the Art Gallery of NSW's Pop to Popism exhibition starts next week so I can pick up the bits I've missed and check out some of the pieces we've been discussing in class first hand. The last time we went away without the kids was for a friends wedding in Tassie at the start of 2011. I found out I was pregnant with Linc about a week before we left, and the combination of (a) morning sickness and (b) a trip to Tassies best wine and soft cheese country, meant that I spent a lot of the trip feeling quite sorry for myself. We're not in Sydney for long, and I'll have a hard time prying myself away from my new little niece so I'm not sure how much else we'll get to do/see, but I'm looking forward to lots of uninterrupted time with James before he heads away again!


I've also found out this week that Yellow Box, the big moth/bark quilt, has been accepted into One Step Further this year. It's a great exhibition, I'm devastated that once again I will get into town a few days after it's closed, but I know I'll get there one day! Soldier On was Runner Up (large Quilts) last year, so here's hoping I can do one better this year ;)

More info here:

Out of Office

James finally got home on Monday!!! So I've been somewhat less productive than normal as we've been catching up and enjoying family time - the kids are also on school holidays so we're having a bit of a mini holiday. I've picked up the majority of the fabric I need for Jaimee's quilt, and the formal approval for the Women in Defence Exhibition came through from the CDF as well so I'm good to get stuck in!

In the meantime, here's a close up of the moth from the Yellow Box quilt I made recently,


It's hanging above our bed right now and I love the patterns and texture you get on it with the natural light in our room - very pretty.

He's attached.


I made the body with throwsters silk, it took a few layers to get right but he has a curly, generous tummy now. I kept it simple with the eyes and antenna, I just used a tiny bit of florists wire to give the antenna a bit of shape, and his wings are slightly molded - they don't lift off the quilt but they're not flat either.

So he's pretty much done! Just in time for my deadline as well! I can't post any more pics yet sorry :(

Have a great weekend!

Bark quilt 4 - more moth


I finished his wings last night, I used the mid grey fabric, the copper sheer and the gold foil. The stitching is good, I started with normal free motion straight stitch but I ended up using mostly free motion zig zag, it's just a bit softer and more feathery.


The wing on the left had been edged with zigzag in the same copper as the fabric, the one on the right is pre-edging.

I'm still not sure how/where to put him, I've moved away from the idea of two, it might be more dramatic with multiple bugs but I think it can become too cluttered and kitsch, I like how with just one he is almost camouflaged.

He's ended up about 30cm across and this pic is about a third of the quilt to give you an idea of how big it all is.


Bark quilt 4 - Quilting


It's always tricky to start with on the big pieces, balancing the need to fold it to get it through the machine with the desire to cause as little movement in the quilt top. I generally start with the most fragile bits, rather than moving from the middle to the edges, trying to keep the quilting even over the whole quilt. One way to do this is to quilt with one colour thread first, in this case I used dark brown to stitch the outlines of the top layers of brown - this holds all the layers below the brown in place as well.

The problem is that sometimes at the start it can look a bit messy, with threads around and little bumps, but it usually comes out fine. I've got the first bit done, and now I'm moving onto the more fiddly bits knowing that layers will stay where I put them.

Bark quilt 4 progress.


First and second layers, I'd prefer less contrast between the two but it looks ok, should be fine with the rest of the layers.


Layer 3 (the gold layer) and part of the blue layer.


The rest of the blue layer. I'm on to the brown layer next. It's much bigger than Eucalyptus Melliodora but I'm pleased that it seems to have kept the same composition and feel :)

I'm still thinking about bugs, maybe a couple of moths?

Bark quilts again.

I'm taking a short break from all the people quilts to head back into the bark quilts this week. I'm going to be making three big versions of Eucalyptus Melliodora for a project due early next year and I'm warming up with one that will be for me and our new house (we're building up here in Cairns). It's a bit of a novelty to be making something just for us, although I'm sure I'll end up submitting it into something since I seem to keep running out of quilts to send away. I'm sending off Eucalyptus Melliodora again next week for judging so I'm just about all out - everything is away! Mum normally 'stores' them for me on her walls and she's a bit blue about them all gone so she's pinned strips onto the completed panels of the Anzac Quilts and hung then instead.

The new bark quilt will be big, 60 x 180cm, and I haven't worked out which creepy crawlies to use yet, maybe another spider? If you have any good looking bugs in your garden I'm happy to take suggestions (and your photos!)


Here's a close up of the plan sketch (the little sketch is 10 x 30cm which gives you some idea of how big the sections will be.)


Moth wings.

I've been busy doing heaps of admin (including sending the soldier on quilt to the US for the World Quilt Competition and Free To Roam to France) and I've also been putting together the components for this moth. image

I've started with the sketch of the mottled cup moth, and I'm going to use some of the felt I made the other day for the body. The wings are done on the machine, using the same brown and bronze fabric as is in the quilt.


I stitched them with a cream cotton using some straight stitch and since zig zag stitch (all free motion).

Next I have to put it all together by hand.


I quilted the bark today.


But as per usual I forgot to take a photo in the daylight so I've only got dodgy pics.

I had a few false starts as the fabric was too thick so the visofix hadn't stuck so well, I just blasted it again with a super hot iron and it was fine. I love all the straight lines, the obsessive compulsive part of me loves getting them 1mm apart without touching.

For the critter I'm thinking I'll go with a version of a cup moth, something like this:


I try to use mostly the same fabrics for the bark and the bugs, but I didn't have anything bumpy enough for this moths chunky body so I've felted a little piece I might use, no pics I'll take one in the sun tomorrow once it's dry.

Back to bark

I'm making a little bark quilt today, hopefully it will be my entry for Australia Wide Four. It's a bit of a test for some other bark quilts I will be making soon, just getting my head back in the space of the layers and putting it all together. I'm using almost the same colour scheme and fabric as Eucalyptus Melliodora (the big moth quilt) but I've replaced the bronze fabric with a shimmery gold fabric that is beyond fantastic - it's the kind of fabric I am so in love with that I never want to cut it up.


So the quilt is just 40cm square, simple design taken from the same piece of tree as Eucalyptus Melliodora. I cut the visofix straight from the paper pattern I made and start adding the fabric in layers, one on top of the other. I know technically I could save fabric by cutting only enough for the top layer but you would really lose the depth and texture that way. I use a lot of wool as well, and I know it can be a pain to cut and sew but it just looks fantastic and is so much thicker than cotton. It also tends to fray less than cotton (good for raw edge applique).


Blue wool layer,


With a subtle brown black layer on top.

Quilting next! Any ideas for which critter to go on top? I was thinking a cicada shell but James said Christmas beetles.

Photos from Buda Contemporary Textiles

My lovely mother in law was kind enough to drive out to the buda exhibition today and she took some pics for me. I've never seen a quilt hung in front of a window before but it doesn't look too bad!


And the label close up:


She said she really enjoyed seeing the work there, she's used to seeing mostly quilts so it was nice for her to be able to see some other kinds of textile works.

I'm having a few days break from the quilts over the long weekend, and James has been bugging me to do a little piece on paper for his ship so I've been playing around with ideas and might have something to show for it tomorrow!