Interesting Timing

August 3rd, 2015

As I don’t consult my horoscope daily, I must have missed portents of an interesting congruence that has emerged.

I’m a long term and distant committee member of ¬†Ozquilt¬†Network Inc.¬† an organisation for makers and followers of art quilts in Australia. ¬†I have been putting together a Power Point Presentation on art quilts for Ozquilt, designed to be shown to groups and individuals in the traditional quiltmaking community to introduce them to art quilts; and we think it may interest a wider number of other fibre artists, too. ¬† Starting with the techniques and processes all quilt makers have in common, it goes on to feature images of some of our members’ works, showing how they have used these plus just some of the potential options of techniques and material combinations available to anyone who would make art quilts. ¬†But these things of course are not what makes the ‘art’, its what you do with them that is important.

I have always seen tradition as a two sided coin, and it’s a very human thing to cling to traditions. ¬†On one hand there are some people who like things to be done they way they always have been since time began, and who go to considerable trouble to maintain traditions – these are the quilters who always make traditional designs, and perhaps others’ more modern patterns but essentially always work from a pattern, ¬†It’s safer that way – you know how its going to turn out, and they are perfectly happy quilting this way. ¬†There are others, though, in being very human in their behaviour, too, ¬†just can’t help changing things a bit, or a lot, whatever! ¬†These people start to make a variation on a traditional or an original design because they can’t find a ¬†pattern for exactly what they want. ¬†They tend to be the experimenters, people who venture beyond the boundaries of traditional quilt patterns. ¬†As they continue in this process they can find themselves learning something about design, ultimately strengthening composition skills and learning the basics at least of colour theory. ¬†In the making of art quilts such skills assume more importance because they are needed to convey the message/artist’s vision, via almost infinite choices of materials and techniques – and in that mission the choices need to be effective. ¬†It’s a less safe zone than the securely traditional, but a quite challenging and and exciting way to make quilts. ¬†¬†This¬† PPP will be available to Ozquilt members to present to groups of quilters and individuals around them, and naturally we’re hoping some will realise perhaps they already make art quilts and others become motivated to extend their quilt making boundaries.

I made a traditional quilt once, a flying geese design, back in 1988. ¬†Begun in a symposium class conducted by Blanche Young, the doyen of the flying geese pattern in the ’80’s – here it is, with apologies for being so poorly photographed – I will get it out sometime I’m back in Aus and do better!Flying Geese 1988¬†Flying Geese wallhanging, ¬† approx. 100 cm x 60¬†cm, 1988. ¬†


Which now brings me to an assignment I’m really looking forward to. ¬†Fellow art quilt maker and highly esteemed colleague, Kathy Loomis, ¬†just asked me to look at and review her recently published new book “Pattern Free Quilts”¬†which she described in her email as a¬†guide for quilters who want to break away from using other people’s patterns. ¬†A topic very dear to my heart indeed, and as soon as I’ve received and had a chance to read it, I’ll post the review – so watch this space.

Photographing Quilts In The New Series

July 31st, 2015

Kimberley Dreaming pieces collage blog 2


I’ve just set up a photography date next wednesday with my photographer here, Eduardo Baldizan, who¬†has photographed all my work done here, and is great to work with.

Unusually ¬†for me, the bindings and sleeves of three are already properly finished. ¬†Many’s the time I’ve hastily basted these things in place at the last minute for photography – you can’t tell from the front, and I am by nature a bit of a last minute wonder.

And as usual, there’s the lure of a ¬†last minute pressure buzz – I have several days to attempt the next one that I’ve been mulling over while I make # 6, and think I’ll make a dash for it, beginning in just a few minutes. ¬†If its a wet weekend, as expected, I’ve got bags of time … ¬†the entry¬†deadline’s not for another week yet!

Take a Basic Shape, Repeat, Repeat …

July 28th, 2015

I discovered a very exciting french textile artist, designer, ceramicist – so talented in diverse media. ¬†Her name is Cecile Cachary. ¬†At this page on her website¬† are wonderful examples of repeated round-ish shapes, ‘ronds’ , executed in various ¬†textile techniques, each collection forming an art work in itself. ¬†Quilt ¬†makers know and understand the value of what I term repeat units, or ‘blocks’ to traditional quilt makers. ¬†I haven’t ever based a design on rounds per se, but repeated roundish shapes – yes. ¬†Use of them can bring rhythm and movement to a work, ¬†Take this oneas an example,

DesertTracks 5


Desert Tracks, 61″ x 41″ ¬†2007


Freehand Or Improvisational Piecing – The Basics

July 26th, 2015


detail, Ebb and Flow 2

I’m quite often asked how to go about improvisational or freehand (template free) cutting and piecing which has become very widespread ¬†among quilt makers in the past 25 years- a modern tradition really. ¬†Widely used by art quilt makers who piece their designs, and seen in quite a number of Modern Quilts, it’s all rotary cut and machine pieced. ¬† The following basic instructions contain all you need to know to begin, as I only learned it from watching a short demonstration by Nancy Crow at the start of a several day long workshop, and then plunging in to using it straight away. It enabled us to rapidly get through heaps of exercises in her class on design and colour. ¬†I’ve been enjoying this way of piecing ever since.

basics of improv


Hand piecers could use this just once, ¬†perhaps, to¬†make some wayy lines in the one direction ¬†but¬†it really is a machine technique, ¬†even if you’re pretty speedy, as hand sewing won‚Äôt allow for more complex cutting, re-arranging, inserting slivers and so on.

Freehand or ‚Äėimprovisational piecing‚Äô¬†has become a modern convention ‚Äď and once you recognize it, you‚Äôll see it wherever there are pieced art and non-traditional quilts. ¬† Elsewhere on this website are two galleries of my original quilts made between about 1990 and the present ‚Äď ¬†the Color Memories gallery followed chronologically by the Ebb& Flow gallery.¬† Keep in mind that have been piecing this way for over 20 years, but I too began with these simple instructions way back then. ¬† With practice, you too will be able to achieve more complex constructions if you wish.

Basics of improv blog image

The main things to remember are:

  • to place both fabrics right side up
  • without built-in seam allowances, as you cut and sew each fabric shape its area showing on front becomes progressively smaller ‚Äď so start out larger in anticipation. Experience will tell you how much to allow, but, if you run short somewhere on a side you can always add another piece as quilters traditionally have !
  • in addition to getting smaller, so, too, the edges become progressively more irregular. Resist your trimming urges until you have finished ALL the piecing.¬†¬† When you do get round to trimming, discard tiny pieces but keep anything useful ‚Äď small bits also piece up into lovely freeform mosaics you could use for appliqued or printed designs ‚Äď see Judith Trager‚Äôs work among others for some good examples.

Alicia Merrett ‚Äės YouTube videos, are good in a very precise, controlled way ‚Äďbut, they were pitched to careful traditional quilters, but even so, you might find them helpful. ¬† ¬†In the Nancy Crow class where I learned this piecing, we had a lot of colour and design work to get through in the time, and Nancy showed us these basics that enabled rapid working.¬† We put all rulers away and did no pinning, just putting edge to edge and sewed.¬† Some managed this better than others in the workshop; and at home I found my own way of working which includes periodic dots along the cut edges with permanent marker or other pen/pencil/chalk ‚Äď and even more of these in tight curves. ¬† ¬†I usually pin every few inches, more in tight curves – ¬†but it all depends‚Ķ. there are no right ways to do this, and only one correct result – a flat one.¬† Once you have learned the basics, experience will teach you whatever you want to know next ‚Äď think it, try it.¬† And, if you ever need my advice or help, feel free to contact me through this website.


The Inspiration of Landscape Forming Processes

July 25th, 2015

Many years ago, I found inspiration in volcanic activity which resulted in two quilts with design lines reflecting the ballooning and layering of molten lava emerging under the sea, and both ¬†carrying the title ‘Pahoehoe’ ¬†as this particular resulting landform is known by earth scientists. ¬†(with apologies for the quality of 20-year old ¬†technology photos)


Pahoehoe  #1,   1995,  80cm H x 70cm W  is irregular shaped and photographed against a black background.

Pahoehoe 2

Pahoehoe #2 ¬†1997 ¬†is 12cmH x 13cm W and hangs against a sand coloured wall in our home in Australia. ¬†I do need to photoshop this pic and remove the blue-ish background, because those patches of blue in the middle of the quilt are actually faced holes, openings. ¬†I should have named it ‘Tricky’, perhaps.

Browsing around Pinterest, ¬†as one is want to do with saturday morning coffee, I was thrilled to find this beautiful silk wall hanging on the artist Petra Voegle’s blog site¬† ¬†It was interesting to see that we’d found inspiration in the same natural force process.

Pele by Petra Vogle  blog

Titled “Pele” (from her Hawaiian Symbols series) ¬†48″ x 17″ ¬†(c) Petra Voegtle.¬† ¬† She writes about the significance of Pele, the¬†god, not the soccer playing legend – so click the link and go visit this lovely site. (which has lain dormant for some time, however) ¬†There are some intriguing detail shots if you follow the link below the pic on her page.¬† She calls her process ‘silk carving’ ¬†but from her description, for my quilter readers she’s talking about a whole cloth quilt. ¬†It’s stunning, perfectly capturing the drag and flow of the lava’s movement out across the landscape.

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