From Sand Patterns To Land Marks

July 18th, 2016

I cropped this photo to remove boot prints, strengthened the shadows a bit, and then the patterns on this beach became sharper and easier to see. The removal of a scale reference made it possible to imagine this as an aerial view of a ridge across a desert landscape somewhere in one of the great deserts of the world …. the patterns are the same or at least similar enough – though the little bivalves trekking towards the retreating waves leave a nice line+blob pattern that doesn’t translate to anything you can imagine on the greater scale.

sand patterns to landmarks startsand patterns to landmarks

Early humans everywhere observed and recorded patterns from nature on various surfaces with a variety of tools, and on every continent except Antartica, in many cases these markings were made onto the actual landscape itself.  The Plains of Nazca in Peru, rocks in Azerbaijan, overhung caves and cliffs at Obiri Australia, and the Newspaper Rock USA,  are just a few of the countless markings on the landscape – or ‘land marks’ as I’m coming to think of them.   Even in very isolated areas many are under threat from human activity by people who no longer know how to read these patterns and don’t know their connection to to the lives and possibly the beliefs of the ancients who lived in the area very long ago.

It intrigues, but doesn’t surprise me, that many of these primal marks and patterns – circles, spirals,  triangles, squares, domes and other basic shapes, are endlessly combined into patterns associated with particular groups of people, and appear on their wooden, metal, fabric, ceramic, leather and other material artefacts.  These ideas are the theme of the first art quilts I made, my Ancient Expressions series, some of which appear in a gallery  of that name on this website.   These days I frequently doodle with ancient patterns, moving closer to combining them with the concept of landscape wearing down under natural forces.

landmark sampling 1 blogI doubt this 4″ x 6″  sample will lead directly to anything, though it represents certain thinking and exploring of ideas and materials  – especially this fabulous mock patent leather fabric I found last time I was browsing in Joanne’s in either Easton MD, Kansas City MO or Greeley CO during recent family visits we had up there.

  1. As you can see, it’s very hard to photograph! … but very dramatic.
  2. The nylon organza has been bonded onto it, and though seemingly impossible to lift now, I’m a bit concerned the edges might rub loose with wear, so that’s something else to consider.
  3. Silver metallic machine stitching works well to hold the edges down here, but I don’t like the effect.
  4. Metallic Sharpie pen dots work fine, wonderfully, excitingly, on the black, but they and the black pen give a disagreeably fuzzy line on the organza.
  5. So there’s a lot to think about.

I’ve always found making a small sample is the easiest and often quickest way to make discoveries. Handling a sample from time to time helps me think about its future potential, and this process needs time to clarify.  Even though I feel my next work might be of all natural fibre fabrics, I feel this ‘patent leather’ stuff or something similar may buzz around in my mind for a while, not unlike the silver mylar coated nylon that recently surfaced from the depths of my fabrics cupboard.

Browsing With Pinterest – Pompoms

July 11th, 2016

From my “no education is wasted department” today comes this amazing pompom idea, and I thank Sophie, writer of  the blog, The Things She Makes, for her kind permission to use this image –felt flower pompoms

This intrigued me so much that I clicked on the link to the blog to view the tutorial on how to make them.  Every step is so well set out and clear that I think I will never forget how to make one should the need arise.

In the same browsing session, probably the same page, my eye was caught by the image of a pompom of a tiger – looking amazingly tigerish.  I tracked this down to a very busy crochet and craft site, which features animal pompoms on this page    Take a minute to scroll down through the selection of recognisable animals and a group of birds sitting in a basket!  (I can hear a voice or two saying ‘Aren’t they adorable!’)  There are many more images here , including the tiger one photographed in someone’s hand – just scroll down a few rows depending on your browser.

Patterns On Mylar Silver

July 8th, 2016

The other day at my book club fellow reader Linda asked me what I had been doing lately, and when I answered I am working on a new wall quilt, her eyes lit up and you could see more questions forming about the design, the size, and so on.  She’s been to my exhibitions here, so has seen my work in the past.  When I answered the next couple of questions with ” Well, I’m using permanent marking pen on silver mylar to then cut into pieces and attach to a very shiny plastic-like fabric… ” she began to look puzzled, and I don’t blame her.  In the many hours I’ve spent so far I have wondered the same myself.

marking lines on silver - blog


In contrast Jackie, sitting on the other side of me, calmly said “I’d love to see it when you’re finished …”

I am very tempted to name this piece as Richard McVetis does some of his – using the total of hours and minutes spent to make it.  So far I guess I’m at around 25:25 perhaps – and only just getting started.  However it does fit with another group of recent quilts, and I think it will be named to be in that group.

Travel Notes: Panama’s Beautiful Traditional Textiles

June 22nd, 2016

We just spent a couple of days in Panama City en route back to Montevideo.  We’ve been there several times,  but this time was the first visit to the Ancon Hill, a 654-foot hill that overlooks the city of Panama. The area was used for the administration of the Panama Canal, and was under U.S.A. jurisdiction as part of the Panama Canal Zone until being returned to Panama in 1999.  Now a reserve, the hill is the highest point in Panama City with spectacular views over the city and over the canal zone.  I have no idea why we didn’t go up there before this …and part way up/down is a display of typical houses and clothes of the country’s interior set up as a rural farm village, Mi Pueblito.  It was interesting to wander around in a farm house

Ancon Hill - Mi pueblita farmhouse

and a school room which would have been contemporaneous with the spread of European civilisation in rural Outback Australia following the gold and wool booms of the mid-late C19.

Though the day was not excessively hot not humid, it was nice to step into an air conditioned display area where the traditional  textile crafts were on show.  What a delight.  Our driver told us that the traditional costumes on display are typical of what comes out for Carnaval each year,  and the costumes or La Pollera, feature an embroidered and/or appliqued skirt with matching blouse, an embroidered white underskirt, head ornaments called tembleques (worn in pairs, one each side of the head, so named because their floral and other organic forms are designed to ‘tremble’ or flutter) and gold jewellery described here with fabulous images that make what we saw look rather modest! How I’d love to be in Panama the few days before Lent when it all gets very competitive, apparently – according to our guide this year’s parades were the biggest ever with over 3500 competing for the honour of winning a golden crown ornament worn in with the tembleques.

Usually white and most often either very fine linen or cotton voile lawn or cambric, the skirts and matching blouse are wonderfully hand embroidered and appliqued with plant and animal shapes, in some of the very finest applique stitchery I have ever seen anywhere.  This white skirt and blouse are hand embroidered in black, possibly Assissi work, and cross stitch is common, with the underside of the skirt showing the back of the embroidery – very neat and beautifully finished.

La Pollera completo

The La Pollera outfits also feature bands of handmade bobbin lace called trencillas – there’s one on this skirt just where the lace frill was added.  You’ll find plenty 0f  YouTube videos of a lacemaker going full speed, either working from a paper chart pattern or freely reading directly from a pattern already worked – with bobbins flying over and under, such as this one ! I’ve seen it done but never tried it myself. On the right of my pic are some of the samples we saw in the museum.

Panama - textiles at La Pueblita ANCONA1

Our guide told me a nice complete outfit would set me back anything from US$20,000 to US$50,000 – hardly surprising given all the beautiful handwork involved in each one of the traditional pieces.  I read somewhere that most Panamanian women only ever have two of them – one as a young woman and another when married.  Clearly they’re as special as their making suggests, and are very carefully looked after. I think I’ll just be happy with any future encounters in museums and hoping to be in the country at the time just before Lent one year – a parade of women wearing these would be fabulous to see.


Travel Notes

June 17th, 2016

While I am visiting family in the US, some of my creative works are also travelling, but in different directions.

Below is #Fairy Bread”, one of three small works I have in the Petite Miniature Textile Art  Biennial Exhibition, showing until July 17th at the Wangaratta Art Gallery (Victoria, Australia) – gallery information at

FairyBread blog

My wall quilt, “Purnululu #7” is hanging in the Stratford Perth Museum, (Ontario, Canada) with a juried collection of contemporary art quilts entitled “My Corner of The World” .  This Studio Art Quilt Associates touring exhibition runs until September 5th 2016, .

Purnululu # 7_edited-1

If you´re near one of these venues over these dates I hope you’ll take time to visit one of  these collections of contemporary textile art.


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