Monday, December 31, 2007

Take it Further Challenge 1

Yippee, it is Finally the Big Day. Sharon has set her first challenge.
We are to make an artwork about a person who we admire. There were colours given for the alternate part of the challenge, but I know several people who I do admire, and I am going to work something about this lady and then later I am going to blog about her on my horse site, because she was a foundation breeder of Arabian horses, and an extremely interesting person.
I am going to enjoy reading about her and finding pictures of her and documenting much of it. It will be something for me and for my blogs.

Ohh I am so excited.

I will keep detailed notes here and will take pictures when I can and post them here and on flikr as well.

Hey Happy New Year's everybody.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Boney fydies

I have photographed some of my bits and pieces, just to prove that I am actually enthusiastic about the Take it Further Challenge.

This first picture is of my embroidery threads. The first two boxes (pink and green) are my DMC threads, and the end box (actually a broken clear box) are my Anchor thread, spare threads and spare winders.

I keep all my threads in numerical order, because when I cross stitch from graphs, they give the number and numerical order is just so much easier to find.

As each card winder finishes I am putting the new threads of that colour onto a plastic winder, as I think that will last longer.

This is my trusty 6 inch embroider hoop (smirk).
(No points for guessing what this is of).

I actually have a variety of embroidery hoops from three inches all the way to a large rectangle winding frame.

Hoops are not an issue. lol.

This is my trusty ironing ham. Displayed are my faithful scissors.
I recently had these sharpened. The red ones are quality Brazillian scissors with a slightly serrated edge. They cut beautifully. My DH was using them to cut hay twine in the horse's food shed until I rescued them and offered to put them through him if I found them there again.
The silver ones are Japanese drop forged stainless steel ones. My DD says her earliest memories of me are using these same scissors to cut out fabrics. I have had them a long time.

I do own other scissors but these ones are special to me.
My Clover iron. Since I am doing applique work in this Challenge and other little things, I have
decided that my Clover iron will be perfect.

Shown on my new sleeve board. I have been wanting a proper sleeve board since forever (I had made one previously out of a cardboard cylinder that finally died after all these years). I finally shouted myself one before Christmas.

These are the handiest things, and I am looking forward to giving them a good workout.

I have a boiler steam iron as well, but as I am running late with all these gizmos, I wont be loading it up for this entry.

Yeah, hands up who wouldn't kill for one of these babies? My very own daylight. I got it at the Crafts and Stitches fair in August this year. If I talk too much about that day I will get so cranky, but that is because of the Equine Influenza.

This light cost me $75 where normally they are about $129. They are bringing out one with a rechargeable battery some time this year. I want one.

I could not believe the difference this light has brought to my work, especially my cross stitching.


This is a crazy quilt cushion cover made by my grandmother, although I have no idea when.

She was born in 1898 and died in 1957, so since I was born in 1953, I never really knew her.

My mother gave me this when I talked to her once about teaching myself crazy quilting. She thought I might get some ideas from it and then throw it away.


(Luckily she is no longer her to ask me what that stands for.)
This is the reverse of the above cushion cover. You can see it is well worn from using old fabrics and then use as a cusion. I so wish I could know the stories about the fabrics. I have so little of my family history.

Rather than have you think I disparrage my mother, she was the one who developed my love of sewing and taught me to cross stitch and some embroidery. I will always be grateful to her for that. I still miss her very much.

This is the first garmet I ever made that used crazy quilting embroidery techniques. Remember I am self taught in almost all my crafts, although I am a qualified dress maker. The fabric strips are velvet and the lining is antique Thai silk (yes it is). It is a vest in child's size 10 and I made it about 22 years ago for my eldest DD. It appears not finished, at the front, but it had hooks and eyes for a while. After she gave up wearing it, I took them off and just keep it as a nice piece that I once made.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Slow Cloth

Related to my recent topic on Slow Art, is the ongoing topic of Slow Cloth. This topic is still around and still creating interest from much of the Craft/Art section of the internet. I have found it popping up in places that are not related to the usual blogs I read.

However, on Red Threads, Lainie was again talking about it - it is part of blog mission. Sharonb has been talking about it on her blog as well too. Talking about slowing down, talking about the traditions of slow cloth, of creation and community. How can there be creation without community. Part of my response to Lainie's blog are as follows:

I am really enjoying following the exploration of this topic. When I lived in PNG many years ago, the making of bilums (native bags) was done in this sort of community environment. Rather like the quilting bee. I suppose now that we have more transient societies/communities, we try to form this sort of community through our online contacts. If I am honest, it is part of the reason I signed up for Sharonb's challenge for this year.

Many people may try to justify their crafts as art, in which case, they seem to be loosing the plot.

The traditions which come with slow cloth allow us to draw from the past in order to create the future in what we do now. In some respects, too, it is making our own traditions. Those of us who have no family tradition in this respect must draw on the traditions of others. I feel a great respect and gratitude towards those others that they feel enough care about their work to share it so that people like me can learn and incorporate it.

Now I have to teach my children and grandchildren, so that somewhere it becomes "my" family tradition as well. And maybe one day we can spread it out to the world as well.

I think the time it takes to do anything, not as a measure of hours and days, but that we do not pace ourselves against a clock is always relevant. It is like the magazine that offers to let us create things in 10 minutes. Mostly by using precut things, pre glued, as like stickers, and pre written. When you make "art" like this, I always wonder why you don't just go out and buy a commercially available equivalent. Not only is it not really hand made, no one appreciates it truly as handmade, and therefore is much of a waste of time. Whereas if you cut the original yourself, even using a pattern, take time to fossick in your various embellishment containers, use glue, or better still, a needle and thread, and using an actual pen to write with. Or failing that take the time to use stamps and embossing powder. Make it look as though some actual time, effort and the biggie, THOUGHT, went into it. In paper craft, nothing says time taken, thought and care like punching holes and using a needle and thread.

And I guess while I am on this train of thinking. Perhaps one vital omission has been made by everybody. How much care and of your heart goes into anything?

I breed horses. Every foal I have bred I have become attached to, I think foals are the most wonderous babies of all. I handle them from birth and teach them things so that they are able to live comfortably with humans. However, I become very attached to those babies, and when it comes time to sell them, I really cry and grieve for that baby. Needless to say, I do not breed many horses. It is too emotionally draining for me.

In the same way, when I make anything, my sewing, my embroidery, my cross stitching and my paper arts, there is alot of me and my emotions in the end product. Thusly, I do not make many that are for sale. I do give away things, and I am happy to trade item for item, but selling is a different kettle of fish. It is not the money that is the problem, but knowing or not knowing if it has a "forever" home. Which is why I cry and grieve for my foals.

My things that I produce are a part of me.

Maybe that is the intrinsic meaning of slow cloth and slow art.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flora and fauna of my area ...

Let me tell you something. I am not a flower person. I don't hate flowers, I just am not overly interested in them. I have done a few floral cross stitches, as far as that sort of thing goes, but if you ask me, I couldn't tell you a stamen from a stem. I am an animal person. I take great inspiration from animals, particularly my horse. She is my darling and since her boy passed away earlier this year, the love of my life.

This is Bruce. He is our resident Koala. He came for a close up visit last night and was about a metre from me when I took this photo of him. He is not in a gum tree, as when he was going from one gum tree to another, we saw him, and he thought this might have been a short cut to the roof. He normally lives in a tree at the side of our house, which overhangs the roof.

This is my inspiration. This is what makes me proud to be an Australian. This is the direction my art will take - from the animals and nature. Watch this space as I try to sketch him on the weekend. Hey I can upload photos!

For more photos of our animals here at Unicorn farm, click on the link above Sharonb's.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I am going to tell you a story ...

Talking about slow art, I want to tell you the story about bilum.

A bilum is a specially woven bag worn and used by women in Papua Niugini. I lived in the Highlands for four years in the early '70's. The bilums are made in groups, rather like a quilting bee, where mothers, daughters, aunties and friends (wontoks) sit around in a group, making the threads for the bilums and then weaving them. The thighs are shaved of hair and the area used to twist two threads together. New threads are joined in this way so that each bilum is effectively one long thread. The weaving is done by using a darning or wool needle and a small wooden stick, like a tongue depressor or ice cream stick. The most valuable ones are plastic of the same size.

We sit around making bilum, and talking, gossiping about people who we know, laughing and joking. Sometimes we will sing a song, usually a little ditty mocking someone we know. Occassionally a mother with a baby or baby piglet will pull out a breast and feed it. We often laugh and gently mock. It is our way. And our bilums get made.

We use the bilums to collect our coffee beans from the trees to take to the roaster. We use them to collect our vegetables from our gardens. We carry our babies. Sometimes we send them to the market for the foreigners to buy.

Oh, yes. In the making of bilum, there is much slow art, there is a story with each one.

This was the original way all crafts for our lives were made, this is a community way that should return.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Slow Art ...

Sharonb has been bloggin about the concept of "Slow Art", and what it probably is and how it applies to what people do in the Arts. She came across the idea from this site here. Some of the other crafters are blogging about it, so I thought I would add a few thoughts of my own.

To me, Slow Art, is the time taken to make art. Any art. All the planning, designing, researching, putting the materials together and finally the making of the piece, with the thoughts and feelings that occur during the making.

I guess it is the total opposite of making something really quickly, gluing a few shapes to the front of a ready cut card, stamping a kitch saying inside and claiming it is "handmade". Okay, I have been guilty of doing that myself, on occassion, when something has come up, and someone has asked me to "make" a card quickly.

However, on my "real" art pieces, I agonise for ages to try and get it to look how I visualise in my head. People who keep art journals or any sort of journals to plan and poke in are so organised. I just keep a picture in my head. Probably why some of my work ends up as UFO's and some of those end up "recycled". I guess from that you can guess "organisation" is not even close to being my forte. Hey, I try and work on it.
(Note to self: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions).

Funnily enough, when I design clothing, I always start off with a crocqui and sketch onto that what I think the finished garment should look like, and I use that to check out fabrics. Then I go and buy the fabric, the matching threads and accessories for it. I decide whether to hand hem or machine hem the edges and all the stuff. Then and only then do I work out the pattern. Sounds abit arse around, but that is just how I do it. Maybe if I do a commission work, I might do the pattern so I do not get too much fabric or not enough. Commissions, alas, are far and few between (read: non existent right now).

The real thing I love about my art is that it is so relaxing. Seriously, if I have a stressful day at work, a stress headache or stuff, just spending a little time either doing my art or going through Spotlight or Lincraft just relaxes me. My partner always tries to encourage the doing art rather than shop, but I'm not fussy. lol. Relaxation to me is really the loosening of all my muscles and switching my brain to a slower "mode" and just chilling. Sewing is the best, but any of the others work as well.


Since the goal of joining the Take it Further Challenge is for me to get organised, not only will I be doing it, blogging it, I have decided I will make a genuine attempt to keep a journal as well. Plan what I am going to do with each month's challenge. Maybe if I commit to blogging that as well, it will help me. I have a moleskin I bought this year just for that, and except for one sketch I did of a thing I want to make, it is virgin. haha. No points for guessing why.

If this works, I shall certainly owe Sharon a debt of gratitude.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sorting it all out ...

Well time is bleeding away, and I must get a wriggle on. And so I have put my best scissors in for a sharpen. I have had these scissors for so long, my daughter says they were a part of her childhood! They are the best quality there is, so I guess they probably were.

I have finally found somewhere to set up my ironing board, so I will tear around like a headless chook tomorrow and get all my fabrics together. I will get them ironed and photograph them.

I will also photograph all my embroidery threads. I have a couple of hundred different colours all neatly wound onto cards and neatly stored into thread boxes. Have been for years, as I am a mad cross stitcher. I should also dig out my embroidery hoops, pins, needles and smaller scissors.

Then I only have to move things around to set up my dear sewing machine. But that might be a bit longer project, as I still have some Christmas cards to make.

But at least I feel like I am starting to get into the swing of it (the challenge) and next I have to get photos posted. I think I should probably trim them down and then try adding them.