Monday, 16 October 2017

Stitch sketching

Practising  some machine stitch sketching. I much prefer hand stitch , slow and mindful as the cloth is held in the hands. With the machine there is a bit of lost control , especially around corners and look at the fat fingers.! But then I should keep working at it and could possibly enjoy controlling my machine.  Maybe I will go over this in hand stitch as well it could give it an extra dimension. It is done on a piece of commercial quilting fabric that I altered with some diluted fabric paint. Not sure where if anywhere this is going. She is not telling me anything about herself , if she enjoys posing, what her name is what she likes and hopes for. This comes with hand work holding and feeling a part of the fabric and thread and so get drawn into the story. I shall call her my mystery, secret keeper, at least until she starts to share.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Stitching stitching stitching

Have gone back reinvigorated to continue and try to finish some pieces. So the Little Red story I have  started to appliqué down some hexagons and Grandmas house. Now to stitch down the raw edges of the linen outline. I will use some variegated thread. I have been contemplating the meaning behind my fascination with Little Red , complicated thoughts of the need to have my own cultural stories . Cultural story, family story , heritage story , childhood story which all meld together . These old European stories that are familiar to me, I can’t change that ,it just is or was. Blinky Bill, Gumnut Babies and Coogee Bear ( but that was a Rolf Harris story so has to be secretly stashed away)  add that special Australian focus to the fairy tales and nursery rhymes of forming a child’s memory. Used to teach , inform and give children that special connection to family and their childhood friends.

Monday, 9 October 2017


I am making a little book from some men’s handkerchiefs. This is the first one folded in half then will use the double layer to stitch and appliqué on. I am not sure where this water, sea , beach theme came from . Maybe it is the blueness of the hankie made me reflect on the ocean. Little lighthouse with a vintage linen covered button.

The birds are cut from an old pillow slip.

Thursday, 28 September 2017


It's amazing where in the world you can find an old Singer sewing machine. Valued for their beautiful iron bases and made into a table. This one I saw on the streets of Hanoi ,Vietnam outside a street coffee shop.

I have one that belonged to my Great Grandmother. It has a marble top on it.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Embroidery in Vietnam

If you find a comfy seat and a quiet moment it's time to embroider! Traditional embroidery of the Hmong people in Cat Cat village again in SaPa Vietnam.

Such fine detailed work. Time and patience . Made into beautiful clothes or textile pieces for the wall.
Seen behind glass in the Fine Arts of Vietnam museum in Hanoi. Finely stitched and embroiderers textiles and clothing. Panels for jackets. Indigo dye, hemp, silk and cotton.

Monday, 18 September 2017


Today in the hillside village of Sapa in northern Vietnam we went for a walk to the Hmong village of Cat Cat.
Here are images of women working on textile traditional work. Batik, Indigo dying, Hemp preparation by beating the fibres to soften, weaving the hemp, embroidery on hemp and cotton.

This elderly lady is applying bees wax in a pattern to a square of cotton. It will then be dipped in the indigo pot.
A young Hmong woman spends time embroidering the traditional stitches. Black cross stitch to outline , which is then filled in with colour

Pounding the hemp fibres to make them soft for weaving into cloth to be batiked , or stitched or for other purposes

Monday, 11 September 2017

Harbour Bridge

Another Margaret Olley inspired piece in the planning. On the floor amongst stuff that was lying there of course.

This is just laying in pieces to get an idea. Might be best up vertical on a design wall , but there's other stuff there so the floor it is. Everything is just randomly added but some thing is emerging. My Dads  family home in Sydney had views of the Harbour Bridge and this was where I spent my early years. So this image done in embroidery and a little fabric paint that I found in an op shop was special. With Margaret in mind as she also, as an art student would wander home from the harbour and look back at the bridge. Very much an image of Sydney which is where she spent her later years. In the Hat Factory. Vintage lace, doiley and bias binding tape. The background is a sample of deconstructed screen printing done years ago. Not sure if it fits here I wanted the bridge and the flowers to be the focus. The flowers in the vase are some flower bashing I did with Nasturtiums. Fun process

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Background stitched . Found a piece of vintage lace for the foreground . But I feel like she is now trapped behind the glass like a 'specimen'. Can't remove the glass easily so I will let her sit for awhile.

She is sitting on top of my piano.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017


This is my first Little Red. For my 7 th birthday in Wellington New Zealand from a school friend. Kept with me all these years. The little rabbit has lost an ear but I can't recall when that happened. I used to play with these , very carefully but I'd set them up and the animals would speak to Little Red. 'No Little Red don't do it, don't go to Grandmas there are wolves about' or 'there is a lone wolf lurking in them there hills'. So this little frame came from Vinnies. As soon as I saw it I thought finally a home for Little Red so she doesn't have to be kept hidden away safely.

Then I made the background for her . It shows Grandmas house which is pure white, but that is a disguise. There is ecodyed silk, batik, dyed scrim, indigo dyed sky and a commercial cotton with the tree printed on it. More lace and stitch to come. Not sure if I should paint the box , white, varnish, a colour , add text or leave it?

Saturday, 19 August 2017


Here is a simple stitching of a photo of my Mum in her younger years. I copied it from a framed black and white photo. Traced onto tissue paper then stitching through the paper. Eyes need some more work. I have stitched it onto vintage cotton cloth. The other half went into the background for my last Little Red piece .

Tuesday, 15 August 2017


 Needing to find a home for these little cats inspired by Jude Hill at Spiritcloth. The small one is on cloud nine using some vintage handkerchiefs and a doily that needs to be cut in half, but I am baulking. I am not going to put any more colour on the white as I like the crisp pureness of the background , after all the cat is an angel in the clouds. The larger one is made up of three pieces from various experiments. His head is the cut away back behind a large appliqué Cheshire Cat on a quilt from about 1998. I saved it for a reason!. The doiley was indigo dyed with Ali George at her studio in Taroom and cut in half to share with Annamaria Mays, who has already used her half in a textile art piece. The lower part is an experiment in cloth weaving to make a surface. And the round eye is over his heart.

Now I need stitching. A face to embroider. Must cut that doiley and stitch it down.  Words in the backgrounds , maybe some more clouds.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


Sampling for Margaret Olley again. A tracing of her teapot or at least one of the teapots in her houses that she used for her still life set ups. Then stitched through the tracing paper with back stitch. Paper gently pulled and tweezered off. Doesn't show up very clearly , the green on the orange, but the background is a vintage 1970's Thai silk and was chosen to reflect the warm orange tones on a wall of   the Hat Factory where she lived in Paddington , Sydney. The green is for her love of green in her paintings. It is only 5 inches square.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

1year of stitch july

Here is an update of my year of stitches. So much done and so much more to fill in yet. I have stopped trying out new stitches. I know that I like running stitch, back stitch French knots and buttonhole in organic circles. My hand is stretching forwards releasing the stitches , symbols of life and mindful awareness of the directions some paths are travelling.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Flowers for Grandma

Starting another Little Red piece. Using the left over bits from the doily I cut the hexagons from for the ecodyed hexagon piece. Added Grandmas house. But Little Red has decided that Grandma doesn't want the cakes and bread, she wants flowers. So Little Red ditched the food for flowers for Grandma to enjoy , to enrich her soul.

Lots of stitching to come. Stitching the backing together which is part of a tray cloth on the top and a pulled apart old soft pillow case. Both have embroidery on their ends which I will cut off for another piece.
Going to add some octogons around basket, will outline shape of cutout hexagons a bit more....blanket stitch or stab stitch. Need to back stitch in Little Reds hand....a sun in top left? Door, windows ...pathway? Too much to think of . Firstly I might iron it all!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Ecodye Hexagons

I need to do something for the 2QAQ display at the Quilt show in October. We have been asked to display pieces using the Eco / botanical dyed fabrics we experimented with last year. So I started making hexagons from a piece that was wrapped and boiled with  eucalypt , purple carrot , turmeric and onion skins either bundled up with or in the boiling water. I have also used an old doiley where I cut out the small embroidered flowers to make more hexagons. An old  crochet doiley is just sitting as I ponder the layout.

I also embroidered some of the fabric then made covered buttons to go on the piece.

'Rising out of the rough weeds, listening, looking'   Mary Oliver

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Improvisational piecing

Went to a workshop today on this style of improvisational piecing run by Jane Rundle. Really enjoyed the process of which I have done some of before but not just random exploration and thinking of the process. I have used Gwen Marstens book for inspiration , where she delves into this style. I have made house blocks. So it was good today to think more of the design as I was going along such as line , repetition, contrast and focal points.

Not such a good picture against the pine floor. The dark is a dark blue not black as it looks in the photo. I love the colours. Might keep going or turn it into a book cover. I would like to use this technique with some of the vintage linens and embroidered textiles. White with embroidery and other colours that combine ...maybe a indigo dyed blue.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Can't see the branches for the wolf

More work on Little Red. Love the name of the Sylko thread I picked up at Vinnies today. Mid Mole ....perfect colour to appliqué down that wolf. I think he quite likes balancing that branch on the tip of his nose. He doesn't look at all wicked....maybe he isn't. I think he is having so much fun being a tree he has forgotten all about Little Red who will come sneaking into the picture soon. Watch out wolf she's coming for you!

Watch out for wolves

Another Little Red. This time I have ecodyed a white embroidered doiley with avocado pits. Then a small piece of silk from an ecodyed bundle forms the wolf. But I am going to add more to him so Little Red will need to keep her wits about her because as she will find sometimes the wolf appears in the most unlikely places. Just when she thought she was safe . But maybe it's that grandma again hiding in the trees and just looking like a wolf....who knows?

More stitching to follow...not sure where to put Little Red.. entering from the side, behind the tree oops I mean wolf, or does she even need to be there?

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Lipstick hibiscus

Here is the results of my lipstick hibiscus solar dying. The silks are a soft beautiful pink and the cottons are  faintly tinted. But I didn't soak in soy or add any protein to the fabric before dying so didn't expect to get too much if any colour. They are still wet in this photo and now have dried a little paler, but I am happy with the result.

I have to work out a way to keep note of how I got the colours. So these are now tied together in a bundle with a hand written tag detailing the information.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Running stitch

I have started an online course with Sue Stone . These are my first two samples where running stitch is explored. There are variations in each square to relate to spacing, tone and texture. I am trying very hard to make my samples neat and controlled but my fingers and mind won't let me that something about new dogs and old tricks? As I stitch these I am pondering how I can use some of these textural stitching ideas in pieces that have come to a standstill because they need something to bring them out of a predictable space they and my thoughts are in.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Year of Stitches

Today I went to the Aladdins Collectables fair and purchased some vintage lacy small appliqués. I have added some to this weeks stitching.

I also bought some unfinished transfer embroideries and a totally cutable doiley,which has stains but not on the actual embroidery. I will make hexagons out of the small floral embroidered bits scattered over it. Also got some lace , some white covered buttons and a beautifully mended hand made baby dress. It has grub roses and smocking on it, lace edges and small holes. But the mending speaks volumes, of repair , saving, hand me down, cherishing and the evidence of women's work, the hand of the maker in the process. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017


Thinking of flowers and jugs , using up , recycling, simple things and as always Margaret Olley is on my mind. Too busy a background? Or should the foreground be stronger colours to come out a bit more? Will try a few other layouts. The background is an old sample of machine quilting I had been practising.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Primitive Doll

I was inspired by a work colleague Koula @akida2 who has been making these primitive or folk dolls. Made up a pattern and didn't think too much about colours and matching, just went with the items I found. She is so endearing! Might be inspired to make more ...why ? I have made dolls years ago and did not think I would ever get back into that activity again. I think they became so popular and very detailed that the fun for me was taken out of them.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Solar hibiscus

Some lipstick hibiscus which are a beautiful red colour. I have put in some silk, cotton and lace. Will see what happens . Planning to put outside tomorrow. Cut from the garden of my family home which changed ownership today. Also I did a rubbing with paint of the hearth , took some soil, have pressed some of my Dads favourite pink geraniums, picked leaves for printing and cuttings of several plants.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Blooms and blossoms

Workshop today with Miriam Gillam a beautiful lady who works with fabric and stitch. She interprets her inspiration with machine and hand embroidery, nature inspired pieces including corsets and 3D sculptural objects. The focus of the workshop was to develop ways to turn an image into a piece of work. We did word storming, mind mapping, sketching or drawing and colour matching. We made mood boards inspired by the 'blooms' of choice some from images in the Georgia O'Keefe, Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington-Smith Making Modernism exhibition at QGA. We planned varieties of ways the marks could be interpreted in stitch for our individual images. Then to end on a peaceful note we use tissue paper to make a collage of the image.

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Getting away from Margaret Olley, I found this little traveller made when I was sampling for Little Red . Added some extra bits as I ponder her inclusion in something else or to leave it as is. She is slowly going, seeking, moving on. She knows the value of not being trapped by possessions. The heavy weight of them as they shudder and fill the air in a home with their energy. Too much drags you down especially if the material possessions do not bring joy or are useful....or so the saying goes .

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Houses on the Tweed

I have been working on this little piece with Margaret Olley in mind. The houses depict the houses along the Tweed River where Margaret lived as a child. Scraps and joined with a raw edge appliqué . Today I went to the Embroiderers Guild Mothers Day Fair and purchased some beautiful vintage lace.  Several tiny bits of lace were perfect to add to this piece in special small detail.

'Thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirit of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes'
e.e. cummings

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Solar dying

I have been inspired to try solar dying with flowers. Some coreopsis in one bottle with a circle of silk to make a moon or a sun. The other jar contained dried black beans . In this jar I put a piece of broderie anglaise and a scrap of silk. This is the black bean result a beautiful purpley bluey pink.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Year of Stitches

Last day of April and here is the update on my 1 year of stitches. I have several ideas to keep going including filling areas with French knots, more feather stitch, some circles and a tree. I am really enjoying the randomness in the way I am working the filling of this piece. I have found a great embroidery book by Constance Howard to find inspiration from.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Mixed Media

Here is a collection of paper strips I put together for further experimentation . There are three handmade paper surfaces for embroidery to be added. Paper strips of music pages , heavy tissue and mulberry sheets.Lace, embroidery on the small fabric hexagons. Green colour in being mindful of the green of the Margaret Olley work. Will slice up and find smaller pieces to use in a artist book. Experimenting, exploring layers of a life ,of colour. Faded beauty , multiple fragments, some adhering to traditional values and beliefs.

Sunday, 9 April 2017


I 'm going to make me a bird. .....I have always wanted to make a scruffy sort of organic looking fantasy bird, so this is my prototype. He is not a chicken. Sort of started with a pattern but then I didn't want him to be so neat edged so I'm going to have raw edge wings and tail. Not sure about the beak as it looks too much like a duck....cut down? or stitch on so it goes a bit higher?....maybe the pinning is pushing it down to look like a duckbill. The feet were the most difficult as I think the wire is too 'thick'. I am going to the florist warehouse to get some florist tape to cover his wire legs and toes. And he needs eyes. Buttons with a shank ? or black beads ? or stitch on a round shape then add a bead?

His body is made of repurposed wool suiting and his wings and tail are silk. Beak a scrap of cotton .

Thursday, 6 April 2017


I downloaded a Prisma app and then fiddled about with a photo many styles but this is my favourite. Little houses in background. Life , there is a twinkle in my eye which I never notice. I always take a bad photo but I love this. A new way of looking at myself without being so critical. This play is a result from working with the self portrait exploration in Jane Dunnewold 's Creative Strength Training online 10 month program

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Year of Stitch

 My work done at end of March.1 year of stitches. Spreading out and filling in. I am learning some new stitches as I go when I see someone else's work !need to find the stitch in a book or follow the link. Also coming to the realisation to not think it through too much just thread up the needle and go with it. Hard to see as the photo was not well centred but there is a small eye in the diamond on the left. The watching muse , watching out for procrastination and thoughts of 'not good enough'.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Process Pledge

I have been travelling through blogs and Instagram and came across a pledge. This was from 2010 so I didn't link the icon into my sidebar. The focus was on planning to write more in a blog of the process of a piece of work , not just putting in the finish. To explain and share the thoughts behind the work and trials of fabric, colour , design, plans . I used to only like to show finished work as the 'ugly stage ' before resolution or the beginnings was often met with blank stares. ( very caught up in what others thought of my work and a negative word could often completely sideline the work)
 But now I find textile art and makings is a different matter. Sometimes every step along the way can have a sort of beauty in itself from the dying, printing or marking of fabric to stitching, mending, appliqué, merging, melding and expanding the space and putting together or be inspirational to others or even when shown new ideas for direction come up when shared with other like minded souls. Little scraps of samplings are gems of artist endeavour of seeing how it might be and of course leads to more exploration, play, sampling before a final piece is germinated. Sometimes I find little scraps resurface later into another piece or kick off an idea to work around. So it will be beneficial to my way of working to document the process.

Here is a picture with some of my samplings. Thinking always now of Margaret Olley impresssions from her home studio. The parrot was a thrift shop find. All single elements made as separate but trying together or pairings or still looking for a home. Here there is indigo and shibori dying , botanical dying, sketching with aquarelles , fabric weaving, discharge, appliqué, embroidery on wool, cotton and silk, lace,pom-poms and found stitchery.

Saturday, 25 March 2017


I did a workshop with a Robyn Vanholland on basket making yesterday. Much more complicated than I thought it would be,especially starting and then adding in new strips of fibre. The fibre used in this one is banana,from the trunk of the tree. Then some red stripy twine is added. The technique is to twine ,not weave which is hard to keep at until you get into a rhythm. At the end with this my second basket of the day I lost the plot a bit at the end so imperfection which I embrace and feel they only add to the wabi-sabi-ness of the 'nest' like little basket.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Just  stitching ,sampling, going along without thought, hands slow holding together. I drew the lyrebird years ago and worked the page onto scrim and tissue paper but now coming together. The words to be echoed on the page 'crossing, jumping, springing with impatient activity ..glowing warmth early in the day. ' The story. A chill winter morning in the mountainous bush , foggy and wet leaves dripping. Sun coming through the dappled leaves ...settles on a lone lyrebird digging and scratching, focused on his morning meal. A call to welcome the sun, light of step , watching eyes , still except for the bird springing from one site of intense concentration to another.

Friday, 10 March 2017


I have just put this image on my Instagram page but felt the need to say more about her. Was made as a fresco for ATASDA exhibition, shown in NSW. This week I have eaten at a local iconic Indian restaurant called Scherazade. Then the book I have just started reading True Pleasures : A Memoir of Women in Paris by Lucinda Holdforth, talks of a taxi driver from Tunisia who shares a photo of his new baby girl named Scherazade, teller of stories. This triggered the memory of this little fresco I made several years ago . So here is the third piece in a trio of coincidences.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Two months down

This is my work on the Year of Stitches 2017 after February's stitching. She wore stars on the tips of her fingers ... and the clock wanted wings which spread and turned it into a wee sun. Some more daisies will always fill in the holes where nothing else grows...hardy, beautiful, humble and functional in to look on their beauty is to lift the soul, so a very important job for the daisy.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Journal covering

I am doing a 10 month online class with Jane Dunnewold called Creative Strength Training. It started 1st March. One of the first tasks was to prepare a journal to keep the writing tasks, explorations, research, handouts etc. I am trying to only use what I already have. So far so good. This is an old ring binder and the fabric was a rust dyed experiment that I took to a printing class years ago ,so it has some rubbing printing done with Shiva stick. And now I have put in a bit of green stitching using the colour I am focusing on in my Margaret Olley inspired pieces.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Little Red

Some pictures from my long in process Little Red piece. Looking at placement ,heart in the home of Grandma and Little Red the only two pieces of colour ,of life, .thinking about the wolf maybe there is no wolf , maybe Grandma is really the wolf in Grandma clothes. There will be a glimmer of something though to add the third touch of colour. Maybe pink or very faded black just hiding in the corner , showing a weakness ,  in the strength of Little Red and Grandma's heart. Lurking, threatening but held in bay by the strength of these women.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Here is my little flower face just becoming , turning into what she needs to be. On a vintage handkerchief in a pink that could be Margaret's flesh pink,....maybe. I really like the little dancing feet at the bottom of the stem. There's no settling in one place for this dancer. She's moving ,to the beat, or the wind ,or life as it takes her.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Flower spirit

I have put a small face into the flower. Rounder , more the shape of Margaret Olley's round sweet face. Her spirit is in the flower, in all flowers. The face is drawn onto silk with an aquarelle pencil, spritzed lightly to blur. Even though this was just a bit of early morning inspiration play I think she needs to be put within a context. More garden? Maybe turned into a little brooch? Added to something larger? Hidden in the corner of the house shape larger piece? Something to mull on but all this play will lead somewhere. We just found out our application to exhibit at the Warwick Art Gallery has been accepted. The work gets a deadline, focus.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Some more ideas flowing onto the cloth for Margaret Olley inspiration. Faces in flowers and a hare from his cosy burrow as Margaret referred to The Hat Factory as in her later years. Comfort of home. Not sure about the faces added but it's to do with  language and communication and life and fleeting moments captured forever in a still life ,long past the time when flowers fade and die. Except for Margaret Olley's flowers they live on in the preservation of her house relocated to the Tweed Heads Art Gallery
Sorry but it's sideways not sure how to rotate it.