SAQA-Oceania Blog Hop 2013

This year the SAQA-Oceania region members contributed 32 pieces to the annual SAQA Benefit online auction, and decided on a blog hop to highlight ourselves as a regional group of SAQA member artists.

alison in studio - saqa O bloghop

Although here in Montevideo Uruguay I’m technically only about 100 km from the South Atlantic, as an Australian I am part of the SAQA-Oceania group, and as you know, home is where the heart is.   So, today I have a few notes on my auction piece, how it fits with my recent work, and then I’ll finish with a few pics of my workspace to give you some idea, if you want it!

I always make a 12″ square for these auctions, and they’re either small samples for new work, or examples of what I am doing on a larger scale.  Late last year I made a group of quilts for an Australian exhibition, and after fluffing around with samples,  I decided stenciling really was the way to go for that group, with designs based on images of sand ripple patterns I photographed and manipulated to produce the pattern from which I cut the stencils (out of fabric)  for each:

pencil sketch sand collage

For this 12″ square, I cut a stencil of ripple patterns from template plastic:  the plastic didn’t start out gold, of course!

sqsaObloghop stencil

Template or other plastic sheeting is wonderful for stencils you might want to use over and over – easy to clean and store.  I’m a fan of the low tech approach, and  fabric stencils enable you to produce even larger surface patterns.

After stencilling, my auction piece was free machine embroidered with gold metallic thread; then layered, pinned and free machine quilted with a fine stipple pattern (rather tedious) using fine black polyester thread top and bottom.  I am a great fan of Guterman’s Skala thread as used here, and in fact use it whenever I piece, too.  I buy 10,000m cones of the basic colours of black, dark grey, light grey, white and cream … which tells you something!

quilting sample saqa 2013

It was then trimmed and bound.  There’s a hanging sleeve which is easily removed if the buyer wants to mount it in a frame.

Sandlines - small


I use unbleached calico / muslin for backs, so these Tidelines quilts all look like this: golden sands quilt back saqa 2013


Mike agrees the following photos are a totally normal, reasonable representation of my workspace at any given time !  and I  include them to give you some idea of where I beaver away creatively.   Of course, all spray painting, stencilling and burning are done outside in the garden, with my back to the wind, but for everything else, this is my workspace.  I think ‘studio’ is rather too refined a term, although some  might not agree.

sewing room with pin wall

My pin wall, right,  is large, half a wall in a long narrow room. 

Having pride of place in my work area, shown in the back corner of this photo, is an extremely unusual wooden cabinet, a re-purposed antique, closeup below.   Perhaps you can guess the original use, but everyone I’ve ever shown it to has been totally stumped.  We were too, when we first found it.   The answer’s at the end of this post.

sewing room 3

I find it very useful for thread storage.  Each little sliding door/panel has a small finger-size indentation, and there’s one spare space per row, enabling access to every cavity by sliding the panels back and forth.  Some cones and spray cans go below.   It’s a beautiful thing, and the original use will surprise you!

And finally my actual ‘sewing’ area, (complete with the other usual occupant in the room) showing my cutting table at right angles to my sewing table with recess for the machine.  Both were custom made to the same height, so it’s easy to move it as necessary for machine quilting.  When piecing, I cut, sew and press each seam as I go, so again, convenient for how I work.

sewing room with dog

sewing room work area 1

OK – it might look a bit like a jumble sale, but what I need is close to hand, suiting how I work.  If a bunch of coloured fabrics out on the table become too distracting I simply put them away.  After a big project I tend to tidy up, put everything in its place,  then for something new I get fabrics and threads for fresh consideration – I audition them, really.

Now, that cabinet?  When we found this interesting piece in a furniture restoration and reproductions place, we were very puzzled.  The proprietor, Roberto, told us it was from the ticket office of the central railway station in Montevideo, and the little boxes held pre-printed tickets for every railway station along the radiating lines.  The rail system in Uruguay is largely defunct as most lines closed 30+ years ago, the magnificent C19 Central Railway Station was stripped of all furniture which was auctioned off, and the grand building stands sadly empty and unused to this day.  Before that, well into the ’70’s, you bought your ticket from Montevideo to somewhere, paid for it, and then it was then date-stamped with the date of travel.   Mike, bless him, suggested I could use it in my studio.  Roberto was thrilled that someone wanted it, especially for such a practical use, and we both thought it was a snap at  twice the price we paid.

The blog hop began on July 16th, so a number of artists have already posted,  such as Ali George and Rasa Mauragis just before this, but all posts on the hop are scheduled HERE    The next is from Maggie Gilbert on August 7th, then Susie Cujes on August 9th.  We hope you’ll enjoy the whole blog hop excursion!

4 Responses to “SAQA-Oceania Blog Hop 2013”

  1. Martha Ginn says:

    Alison, I enjoyed visiting your studio (a.k.a. workspace), and can identify with having materials lying about everywhere with the occasional total clean-up when it is interfering with your creativity. BTW, that’s a wonderful looking studio assistant. Mine isn’t that large, but I’d bet he sheds more hair than yours. The “ticket cabinet” looks great for thread storage–a lucky find.

  2. Clare says:

    Thanks for generously sharing the details of how you made your auction piece. And letting us have a peek into your studio, much tidier than mine & 3x the size by the look. But then I don’t have to accommodate the friendly assistant.

  3. alison says:

    Yes, Clare- it’s certainly the biggest, so most luxurious, space I have ever had to call my own. But modest compared to some dream studios I’ve visited and seen in magazines. but size isn’t everything, and some such studio owners don’t produce much of note I’ve found. One textile artist friend has a large purpose build room with wet area outside – but its filled literally with stuff so she can’t work in it really …it sort of hinders her. My first sewing area was actually a cupboard that opened right out with a fold up bench for the machine…. and before that in one-table households I used the end of the table and so often had to clear away what I was doing; which, now I think of it, may have been one of the reasons that for many years I did a great deal of hand embroidery of all kinds. (see the first gallery on the website) One of the most productive quilters in my Denver bee, years ago now, had what she called ‘the hovel’ – an incredibly cramped, seemingly inconvenient, small sewing and cutting space from where she produced the most beautifully made quilts, often taking awards at national shows.

  4. […] Later today bidding will open on the first group of pages 1a and 1b.  They include several I would love to own, and include something for every taste.  “Sandlines”  below, goes up for sale today and I have my fingers X it might sell in the first part of the week.  On august 5th I wrote a bit about it, and my workroom/studio, in The SAQA-Oceania Bloghop […]

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