Thursday, 30 September 2010

Fantastic Reflections...

I am bowled over and full of admiration for the beautiful quilts that have come in so far.  They get better and better every time - what are we going to be like at the end?!

Reflections was a gift to you lucky girls who had the indigo play day at Dianne's - but they couldn't be more different.  I'm touched by the thought that everyone has put into their quilts and feel privileged to be part of the group.

Many thanks, Helena, for the challenging new theme - that keep us on our toes and the 'little grey cells' working!  Don't forget Frenzy is due in on New Year's Eve!!!!!!


Silk Demo Reflection

My Reflection piece is using a technique from a demonstration I attended at the Houston Quilt Festival in 2009 on how to paint on silk fabric.
In order to prevent the paint from bleeding the pattern was stitched with silk thread. I used silk thread for the initial design and then So Fine and Bottom Line thread to do the background fill. The batting is also silk.
I'm not sure why I was so keen to do this process as I've never been a fan of painted wholecloths and painting is not a technique I am comfortable with. However, it sure was fun to do something new!

Announcing the Next Theme

Turns out I am the person to choose the next theme. So I will go with my first inspiration, which is "FRENZY". The previous themes have been very calm and contemplative, so here is a major contrast. As the busy holiday season approaches, this theme may be very appropriate!

Reflections of Marie-Anne

This is a portrait of my 30-year-old daughter Marie-Anne. It is a reflected image, and reflects my thoughts on having a daughter who is older than how I feel myself! She is a very black and white person, so much like me. There is very little quilting, since I didn't want to add any wrinkles to her beautiful face. Looking forward to the next challenge, whatever it may be.

Reflections of Houston

Reflections of Houston

Downtown Houston has the most spectacular examples of building reflections that I have ever seen. In 2008, from a huge collection of photos taken over a couple of years, I attempted to capture some of those reflections in fabric but gave up.

When the "Reflections" theme was announced in June, I made an on line commitment to do the Houston sky scraper reflections. I thought I would use photographs in various ways but my equipment was not up to the task and once again I was left trying to produce shiny images from flat cloth. At least 12 inches was less daunting .


A very simple interpretation of the theme. I started with lots of complicated images of reflections in buildings, then by chance ended up with this bit of fabric after an experiment involving graduated dyes and pole wrapping. The fabric just demanded to do all the talking.The technique is 'borrowed' from Kathleen Loomis, who talked on her blog in April about using very thin insertions in her work. Virtually no quilting, just in the ditch, but I'm very happy with it.

What's the theme for the next challenge??

Comedy & Tragedy

I gave you all the subject with no idea of how or what I would do, but during a time between being asleep and awake I got this idea. I have called it Comedy & Tragedy and how I see it is as follows:

How often do people approach us, whether they be friends, family or acquaintances and ask us how we are and we usually reply that we are absolutely fine and usually smile but deep down inside for whatever reason we are so sad, and feel we have no one who would understand. This is a reflection of an emotion that we are showing but not feeling. I am sure most will understand this is not what we show to the world, but how we are feeling at a particular time.

I was a bit tentative when doing the thread painting of the shadows but being masks one could not put too much emphasis on expression.


Well, here it is, my Reflections piece. It began as a pole-wrapped shibori piece, created at Dianne's amazing indigo retreat. Machine-stitched with Sulky's Sliver thread, embellished with beads and French knots, then mounted on stretcher bars. "On reflection" (please excuse the liberty) I wish I had done something more painterly, but once I saw the movement of water in the shibori, I was a goner. Things were not made easier by seeing Linda's fabulous take on her shibori dyeing ten days ago.


Kurshan was a shtetl (village - Yiddish) in Lithuania where my paternal grandfather came from. 

In 1905 there was a huge fire in Kurshan and all the Jewish homes were burned down.  My grand father left Kurshan and went to the neighbouring village of Popelan where he met my grand-mother and married her.  They had one daughter there before coming out to South Africa in 1912.

During World War 1, the entire village was destroyed.

The piece I have made is a collage made from various photos and photocopies.  

The image of the street (the main? - only one) was from a photo from a friend whose grandparents come from the same shtetl.  I photocopied it onto a transparency.  The railway tracks were close to my home in South Africa.  I walked home from school crossing those tracks many times.  Often I saw black people being harassed and arrested for not having their pass books or attempting to board the train without a ticket etc.  It holds many painful memories.  Shortly before leaving South Africa, I went back to those tracks and took many photos which I use a lot in my work.  I have photocopied one of my photos, and used gel medium to add it to this piece.

The suitcase in the foreground was bought in Johannesburg and 'manipulated' by me.  It is in the vestibule of my home and I have also photographed it in many ways and use it in my work.  For this piece I have photocopied it from a photo.

The black on either side of the tracks is painted with bitumen, a roof sealant which is a lovely thick, black gooey substance.  I have used oil sticks, charcoal, pastels and a variety of pencils and Contes to blend all the collaged bits into a meaningful whole.

The red thread that I use in work of this nature symbolizes the life force, continuity, intergenerational.

This piece was almost finished before our last play date at Heather's where she demonstrated a variety of image transfer techniques.  I would have rather used Citrasolv for many of the transfers in this piece.  Transparencies are very sensitive to water, mediums and liquids of any kind.  I also think it would have looked more coherent with the newer techniques learned on that day.

Looking forward to seeing the others!



Some years ago we spent a holiday on the little island of Gozo which is part of Malta in the Mediterranean.  It was a very good holiday apart from lorries driving passed our villa to the local quarry early in the morning.  The fishing boats are all brightly painted and cried out to be captured in pictures.  I have often looked at reflections in water and tried to analyze what it is I am seeing.  On our trip to Brittany Dianne, Rosie and I took many pictures of water, boats and harbours but the picture that gave me most inspiration was one taken in Gozo where the water behind the boat was sheltered and calm and the reflection strung out.

The boat is fused and the reflections are done freehand using a zigzag stitch moving sideways to 'paint' in the colours.  Thanks for the theme.



Reflections - Zanzibar. As shown previously, I had 4 small pieces from a workshop started many years ago and this theme has enabled me to finally finish them - albeit one. Because of the size I could only fit three in which worked as the fourth had areas of very strong orange and blue and I think this was the stumbling block originally. Getting the perspectives right fox me often, but I will get there. My Zanzibar door is not quite right and the pavement in the Stone Town piece is wrong in the front ---- my left and right sides of the blocks should have been at an angle. Overall very happy.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

paper cloth

Yesterday we got together at Linda's place to experiment with paper cloth, and also transfer with medium and organza.

To make the paper cloth, we applied bits of tissue paper, paper napkins and odd bits to plain cotton with matte medium. When I looked at mine again this morning, it struck me that it would be a good engagement gift for my daughter's friend Claire, whom I have known since kindergarten, and who is now a 22-year-old opera singer, engaged to a 22-year-old pianist and conductor. She sang the role of Cleopatra at the Italian national opera school in Rome this summer. I thought this piece had the romance and musical references that would suit her. It's one of these photo galleries I have made before, as you can pop your photos under the ribbons and display them.

The frames I have are all from flea markets and are a little scruffy, so I have painted them cream. Do you think the cream-coloured frame works for this piece, or does it need to be darker?

I am thinking about doing a similar collage to my little suitcases: something romantic and feminine and nostalgic.

Monday, 20 September 2010


Um, no, I haven't started my Reflections challenge yet. Ten days? No problem!

Here are two little suitcases that I picked up at a local charity sale for $40. Do you think they might be WWII vintage? They are made of leather and canvas, and they're in pretty good shape. The hardware is nice and shiny and works smoothly. The smaller one measures 10" x 15.5" x 4.5".

I find these little pieces very evocative. What stories could they tell? I may end up collaging them in some way, but I don't want to rush the process.

A productive Sunday

Well, I took the bull by the horns and instead of looking at this pile of fabric I made my Reflections piece yesterday.  Why is it so scary making that first step?  I am happy with the piece but realize that I should have pinned the design up on the wall even though it is only 12" square.  I would have seen that a couple of the lines are not quite right - not bad but 'could do better'.

I'm not doing too badly this year - I have fulfilled a couple of quilt ideas  - firstly the graffiti quilt and now this one.  I have a few more up my sleeve.  I wonder what the next theme will be?

Only 10 days to go!


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Venetta in London

I thought you might like to see a picture of Venetta in London.  She is here making a flying visit and we met up at the Hever Quilt Show on Sunday.  Paula Doyle used to live in Beaconsfield and knows Rosie and Dianne from the time they lived in London.  Paula has given up her quilt shop and is now concentrating on her Mini-Mosaics range of patterns.

Venetta, Paula and me (and I had my hair cut this morning - thank goodness, it had been driving me mad ).


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Baby shower gift

My daughter needed a quick gift for a baby shower, so I made a framed photo gallery with her help. I found an $8 frame at the local flea market, which Jess painted with white gesso. We layered squares and rectangles of cotton directly onto cotton batting and fused them into place. I backed the batting with muslin and added some stitching, stamping, buttons and bits. Then I stretched four ribbons across the piece, two vertical and two horizontal, and stitched them on the outside edge only. This will allow the parents to insert photos under the ribbons to display as they wish, changing the photos at will.

With a staple gun, the piece was then mounted on foam core, cut just a little smaller than the 11" x 14" opening of the frame. It was tucked into the frame and held in place with finishing nails.

This particular effort was a little "rough and dirty" because time was short and I wanted Jess to participate as much as possible, but with a bit more care the project could be quite polished. I think it has lots of applications (weddings, Christmas, etc.) and I will be on the lookout for suitable frames at local charity shops.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Image Transfer

I will leave it to others to post photos of their results from our image transfer get-together. I will just outline the techniques we tried.

1. Rice Paper Transfer
Rice paper is available in the calligraphy section of art supply stores. Not expensive. Very absorbent, so it can be printed with inkjet ink, but not bleed when applied with acrylic medium.
Cut the rice paper just a little smaller than your printer paper, and attach it top and bottom with adhesive tape. Print. Dry. Cut to size. Adhere face up to cloth, using matte, fabric or gel medium. I like matte best, because my fabric medium is glossy, and the gel medium leaves brush marks. Takes stitch well. Colour or black-and-white.

2. CitraSolv
An environmentally-friendly cleaning product, available through Website has an Artist's Page for creative ideas and lists local suppliers. Using a toner-based photocopy, place image face-down on cloth. Moisten a cotton pad lightly with CitraSolv and rub back of image until image transfers to cloth. The trick is not to spend a lot of money on photocopies that don't work, for whatever reason, so bring your CitraSolv and a cotton pad with you to the copy shop. Works with some magazine images, but not others. This transfers a mirror-image of your photocopy, so do a "flip horizontal" in your computer software or at the copy shop.

3. Clear Contact Paper
You may know this as "sticky-back paper", available inexpensively at the dollar store. I prefer matte to glossy. Cheaper is better, because the glue is stronger, not "repositionable". Place toner-based photocopy face-down on sticky side of contact paper. Discard waxy liner. Burnish with a hard-edged credit card or butter knife to transfer ink to glue. Cut away excess as desired. Immerse in water to soak paper. Rub off paper using pads of fingers. Some paper may be left on for effect. It may be painted with acrylic paint. At this point, you may wish to add oil pastel to sticky side of image for colour. Apply face-up to cloth using matte medium. Use credit card to squeegee out from centre to edge, to remove excess medium and air bubbles. Glossiness may be reduced with a coat of clear gesso. Colour or black-and-white. Accepts stitch well.

Our efforts met with mixed success, because that's what experimenting is all about. But we had a good time in any case!


Today several of us got together at Heather's to discuss work we'd done, and techniques for applying photos and images onto fabric.  Citrasolv, contact paper, gel medium were used and varieties of photocopies, and magazine images - some with less success than others! But it all adds to the wealth of knowledge in our heads, that will hopefully pop out at the right time when we need inspiration.

Heather lent me the book Intuitive Color and Design by Jean Wells.  The foreword written by her friend Betsy Rickles sums up how I feel about our 12 by the dozen group, my art group, and specially my Tri This friendship with Rosie and Hilary. Sorry if this is sounding maudlin!!  But here's the quote from the foreword:

"My aunt Alice  once told me that the most cherished friendship is not only one in which you enjoy time spent together -talking, sharing, and laughing - but also one in which you inspire each other, challenge each other, and find that you are taking creative journeys within yourself thanks to the influence of the others.  "

So thank you all.