Saturday, 6 June 2020

Having chosen the theme for this posting I was very interested to see what ideas would evolve and I was not disappointed . Everyones piece was so different and the number of different buildings which were chosen was excellent . The great part too were the friezes and sculptures which some members cleverly chose .
I was also delighted to see how many comments each piece engendered.
Last week I had open heart surgery and had my aortic valve replaced .  Being me I thought I would bounce back very quickly , doing everything I was used to doing very quickly . Much to my surprise I felt (and feel) as weak as a kitten So much so that I am opting out of comments at the moment but hope that within another week or so my energy will return to the point of being able to comment on each individual piece, because they certainly deserve that . However I thought the standard of work was very high and that everyone had put a lot of thought and expertise into their individual pieces.
How to tackle Mies van der Rohe is quite beyond me at present but I am sure ideas will flow
sometime soon.
Love and best wishes to Amanda's Mum ( a dear friend of mine) and  Mae -Britt as they gain strength.

Friday, 5 June 2020

 ART DECO Sampling

Allison Moorcroft

 I really enjoyed this challenge. I have always been interested in the many Art Deco buildings of Durban, South Africa, where I live, so it was exciting finding and creating 3 of our buildings.

Quadrant House, in blue, is an example of the Spanish Revival Architecture.
After making sketches from the images I had in hand, I found 3 different base fabrics. Machined guide lines helped me keep the perspective of the pieces correct. The shading was very important to get a 3-D effect.

My husband Lawrence, cut out a stencil of the lettering Art Deco into an old X-ray photo so that I could step and repeat a pattern at an angle across the background of the piece. 


The buildings were built up with cottons, net, organza, ribbon and cord and then finished off with oil pastels and Japanese pens and brushes.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020


Hi all,  Just thought I'd let you know that I'm not that slow in adding my comments to all our work.  I actually added lots of comments on our posting day, only to log in a couple of days later to discover they had all disappeared.  No idea what when wrong - they were all there for a couple of hours at least. 


Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Westmount Square

I am reposting this as Heather wrote it as a comment in the original design selection post and I'm not sure everyone got to see it.  It really is a special building - and our Text'art group loves to lunch there after one of our outings.  No guesses as to my theme. 


As a former member of 12btd, I follow your challenges with great interest. I love seeing your imaginative interpretations of the themes.

Dianne alerted me to your next challenge, and suggested I share some tidbits about our Montreal condo, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe. Four years ago we bought a weekend "pied-à-terre" in Westmount Square, built in the 60's. The buildings opened in 1967, coinciding with the Expo 67 World's Fair and the opening of the Metro. (or do a search for images)

Because of heritage preservation laws, the building is very much in its original state. We actually get our mail delivered directly to our unit, through a slot in the door, because it would be a violation of the heritage laws to install mail cubbies in the lobby. The lobby and each hallway is furnished with furniture in the style of van der Rohe, no doubt copies rather than originals.

The below-ground garage is unusual, in that it is not hidden behind concrete interior walls, but rather the cars are "featured" by glass walls. The cars themselves are an impressive collection of mostly Porsches, Beemers and Jaguars, putting our (usually muddy) Subaru in its place as a country cousin.

We live in Tower 3, one of four buildings in the complex, all grouped on a large plaza. The towers are made less imposing because of the height of the lobby and entrance, more in keeping with the "human-scale" of the heritage buildings on the adjacent Greene Avenue. Aside from the black steel, travertine marble is widely used in the lobby and in the underground concourse, which connects directly to the Metro.

Sadly, all the things that made our weekends in the city so much fun (theatre, museums, restaurants, galleries and libraries) are not available during lockdown. We hope to resume our weekends in the city soon!

Monday, 1 June 2020

Sorry for being a bit late. I thought I could be cheeky and claim it is still 31 May in some parts of the world though, of course, not where I live. I really thought I wasn't going to be able to submit a piece this time round but about 3 weeks ago, I realised I would be able to. That was about the time that I heard termites in my sewing room so that meant everything I had just unpacked into it, had to come out again and, to this day, I am surrounded by chaos. So, I got what I needed and set up in the dining room and, well, then accepted my first invite for a bush walk in my new town. I really needed to accept this and it was only for the morning so I would have the rest of yesterday to myself. Well, we didn't factor in the car breaking down among other unforeseeables! So, it has been a mad rush to do this piece last night and today.

So, the background story. Just as Australia and NZ closed their borders, my mother got admitted to hospital (in NZ) and became seriously ill and was in there for 4 weeks. I flew down to Sydney, turned up 3 days in a row at the check-in desk. I had got permission to leave Australia on compassionate grounds but was waiting to get permission to enter NZ from their immigration. Why would they say no - mum has no family in NZ, is elderly, was seriously ill and I had grown up in NZ, lived there as an adult, paid taxes, visit there sometimes as many as 10 times a year? But no. They said no. I had a spectacular breakdown at the airport and then had to head home. 

After a month in hospital, mum had another month in a serviced apartment at her retirement village and that was really up and down. She needed a lot of support. She has now been home for 2 weeks and that has been up and down too. My mum is 81 and has a serious blood disorder which is not curable. I am faced with the possibility that it will be many months before NZ allows me (and others) in. It has been the hardest time of my life as my mother and I are best friends as well as family.  Hence, I really didn't think I would be able to participate this month. 

However, I started to think how it was like mum was in prison when she was in hospital. She was so very desperate to go home. And I felt like I was a prisoner - not free to move freely between countries as I have been so privelleged to be able to do all my life. So, I asked my friend from the US who had lived in NY if she knew of any art deco prisons. She came up with the Women's House of Detention - the only art deco prison. Perfect! And then I came across a photo of the sick ward. Even more perfect! 

I used cotton organdie I had left over from a pojagi workshop. I used two layers with a third layer of self-dyed yellow for the main window. I folded a few structural lines into the fabric and then mostly free motion quilted and finally, painted with water colours.  

You will see that I haven't included the woman in the photo in my work. Initially, I was going to sew an image of a woman lying in bed looking towards the window and the sun (mum craved to be in fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun on her skin). But then mum was discharged and I just couldn't bring myself to have anybody in my piece to give the clear message that mum and I don't want her to go back in there, ever!

Below is a link to the fascinating history of the house of detention and also to the site where I got the image from.

New York

I was quite daunted when I started to look at the massive buildings built in the art deco style.  They looked so severe.  And as much as I loved the intricacy and beauty of the ornamentation I wasn't sure how I was going to make a piece that was "mine". 

I liked the moodiness of the entrance of the Chrysler building - as seen from inside.  And I did like many of the ornate grill works on doors of other buildings.  So the 2 pictures below are of the Chrysler building and the Downtown Athletic Club. 

 I'm not sure if you can see the detail of the quilting in this first photo so I've put in a bit more of a close up in the second.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Elevator door

I originally decide to look into my old photos of a picture from the Empire State building taken when we lived in New York back in 1983, but couldn't find anything worthwhile.  Next step was the internet and I found a picture of an elevator door which intrigued me.

I used photoshop to get the main outlines, and was initially disappointed that the process of converting a .jpg file to a vector file resulted in lots of rounded shapes rather than the straight lines I had envisioned.  On closer inspection I decided I liked this slight distortion of the image as I had set myself the challenge of not being overally exact in my interpretation this time (I have a tendency to be almost OCD when looking at images).

As we were in lockdown I felt as if I had lots of time to work on the image, and thought it would be nice to use a hand technique aka Dilys Fronk and her gates.  As it was the early stages of lockdown there was a preponderance of rainbow images everywhere (a tribute to the NHS) and I thought it would be nice to incorporate this to remember the time in which the work was made.  A quick hunt through my stash resulted in a piece of hand dyed silk velvet onto which I would hand appliqué the main design.  This lasted for less than a half inch of sewing before I decided to use Steam a Seam bonding for the appliqué!! (Frayed edges were everywhere.)

Here's the result!

The quilting is minimalist, just along the edges of the black shapes to hold them in place.

I am pleased with this piece, but I am also aware that it is in some ways a visual cliche.  However, as building work is still proceeding on our house (the reason I took a sabbatical) and time is at a premium as I am also working hard on the garden and doing all the internal decorating on the new extension, I decided not to try and revise the design.  I am still  undecided about whether or not to add extra quilting within the velvet areas, but at the moment it will remain as it is.

The Madison-Belmont Building Entrance

   My original source of inspiration was the iron and bronze framework to the entrance to the Madison-Belmont building.

   I isolated one of the motifs and made a lino block , which when put together would make a circular design, originally intending to use a big  and a small motif in a square design. However, I changed my mind and tried various other options, none of which fitted in either the square or rectangular formats.

   I printed the small motif on white fabric and quilted it, liking the effect. I also tried quilting it, so that  the lino print is on the back and you just see the quilting on three layers of a  shiny orangey organza, that is a similar colour to the copper paintstik. I also  tried it on a piece of silk, which I preferred. I thought that maybe I could use one of these on a background. I had hoped to use satin stitch to cover the edges, but not ever having done much satin stitch before, I tested it out on some scraps, but it was a disaster, so I abandoned that. I just stitched round the outer edge in a straight stitch, and I might hand stitch the silk one as it risks unravelling on the edge when I cut it.

    Finally I tried doing rubbings from the big lino block  using iridescent Paintstiks on black fabric, which I liked a lot, and decided to use as the background for a small quilted motif.

   My idea had been to place the motif on top of the background, but quite frankly it really does not work, though I like the two pieces separately. I'm not sure what on earth to do with it, though I think the small quilted motifs would make nice Christmas decorations!


Snapshot of Art Deco(ration)

Phew!  Made it.  I have just finished my piece.  I am relatively pleased with it.  There were moments when I wondered if I knew what I was doing with printing the images on the fabric.  I went through  quite a few extra sheets, not least because a couple had text on and I twice managed to print them back to front!  It's been a while since I used this process and in the meantime I have changed printer so finding my round the settings to up the saturation, etc, was a learning curve.

I was overwhelmed with wonderful images of buildings around the world.  I first thought I would be 'clever' and try and distil the essence of Art Deco in its lines and proportions and realised I am still struggling with being able to abstract things.  So this is my offering, a focus on some of the wonderful decoration on the buildings.

Snapshot of Art Deco(ration)
If I am feeling brave later I might go back in a write the names of the buildings under the photos.

The background is machine quilted in straight lines at angles to reference the angular aspect of Art Deco.  The photos have been printed on fabric, bonded to a second fabric layer to stabilize, and are held in place with leather corners.

Thank you for making me look again at Art Deco, Rosemary.  I am really an Art Nouveau person...


NY Art Deco - Brooklyn Doorway

Thanks for a challenge that prompted some interesting research. In the end I chose these doors as my inspiration source:

Doorway in Brooklyn | Art deco door, Art deco buildings, Art deco

I've developed an interest in Welsh wholecloth quilts,  or more specifically, the way the patterns are generated.  I took the motif from one of the doors and used it in lieu of the leaf pattern used in Welsh quilts and used the door border, as is. The design loses something in this translation but i learned a lot from the exercise.

I transferred the design to an old cotton sheet, stitched it by machine then overpainted the whole with black acrylic. 

I like the fact that the paint application isn't totally even as it reflects the fact that this doorway fell into dis-repair when the building was unoccupied. 

I've struggled to photograph this, I think the contrast between light absorbing black paint and the reflective gold thread was too much for my aging iPhone, but it glows quite nicely in natural light!