The Layered Textiles of Nena Bardaro, Montevideo.

June 4th, 2017

Yesterday I visited a very interesting retrospective exhibition of the textile art of Uruguayan artist Nena Bardaro, Puntadas de luz,  By presenting this exhibition, the Museo Blanes recognises her importance in non-traditional textiles in this country, as an artist who led in technical and materials innovation, via a long engagment with the community through many activities using her art and creativity, but especially costume and stage scenery design, teaching and training teachers of art.  Her use of natural fibres and experimental use of synthetic fabrics which poliferated in the 70’s resulted in distinctive layered sheer fabric compositions on both grand and minute scales.  Fascinatingly, most pieces in the exhibition feature her particular signature technique of fastening the fabric layers together with what look like tiny stitches but are actually dabs with a very hot tool – a soldering iron or similar – the catalogue doesn’t say, and I could not tell from the photos that accompanied the exhibition.  In any case, such a technique is only possible with synthetic fabrics.

Nena Bardaro, wall hanging detail of stitch-like construction with heat tool.

It is true to say that her work imbues the traditions of the quilt with strong ‘simple’ designs as found in  molas  the hand stitched layered textile art of the Kuna Indians of Panama and Colombia. For the majority of artisans engaged in works of layered fabric held together by stitch (or dabs by a heat tool) the workshop is most frequently the home, on a domestic scale which can to some extent expand and contract as demands for space for larger or small works change.

Nena Bardaro,  Wallhanging, 1974,  175cm x 113cm


Nena Bardaro,  Wallhanging, 1976,  119cm x 190cm approx.

The exhibition opened on May 24th last, and runs until July 24th. Nena’s expertise spanned a wide variety of techniques, knitting, crochet and weaving included, but it is the layered constructions the Museum have chosen to focus on  this time, and I am so pleased to have had the chance to see this.  A full colour catalogue is available from the museum book counter.  An important part of this exhibition is its celebration of Nena’s teaching many art workshops and programs of art and hand crafts to children.  Today, children from many schools visit the museum, and I hope at least some of them find inspiration in this display, as I did.  I myself have a suitable heat tool I used to provide texture in such works as Timetracks 7 , 2006 and Post Apocalyptic Lace, 2009, both layered nylon organza constructions, though I haven’t used it for anything major for a while.  This week I’ll have an experimental day to see what I more can do with it as a stitch alternative with the nylon organzas and other synthetics I have sitting around.  Holes …

“Puntadas de luz” opened on May 24th last, and runs until July 24th.  A full colour catalogue is available from the museum book counter.  Museo Blanes information,

Arcs Are Everywhere

May 30th, 2017


Call them curved lines, curved segments, whatever – they’re all round us.  Consider the roof of the Sydney Opera House – those shapes they call ‘sails’.  I read that if all those sail shapes were somehow able to be all put together they would form a complete sphere, just as you can with an orange.  Marvellous.  All on the back of an envelope, too.   Anyway, in the world of patchwork, there are lots of designs like Rob Peter To Pay Paul  or Dunkards Path  that incorporate a curve or two into the pattern.  If your sewing skills aren’t up to it they can be a bit harder than piecing together straight line shapes,  but there are heaps of tutorials on You Tube now that you can explore for tips on how to piece them well.  Any design looks all the more dynamic for including some or all curved shapes, so imho they’ve always been very appealing.  If you’re into improvisational piecing, inserting curved shapes isn’t easy, and the smaller the harder, but it can be done –









Early in 2016, I was exploring a linear pattern, the knitted garter stitch, that had been on my mind for a long time – and wrote a blogpost on how I diagrammed the lines I saw, and the collage above includes the stages of inserting curved shapes (lines) and the particular piece that resulted from that exploration, Dreamlines #3, (lower right) which has since gone to a new home with a US collector.

I love this block -to me it says sun rays, but turn it round and it suggests rising or setting sun – and it probably goes by several names in the traditional quilt block lexicon.  On the left is an actual little 4″ x 4″ sample block – I have long thought I’d like to do a whole vast quilt of little blocks of this – there’d be hundreds – and it’s not so simple, really – I started, and found the work per block was considerable.  But I love it, and perhaps at a slightly larger scale sometime … or maybe not.


I have blogged quite often about starting points – inspirations if you like, and as I’ve said before, to me a line or a shape is a seam in waiting.  And many of these inspriations involve curves.  Another contemporary quilt artist who finds curves interesting starting points is Brenda Gael Smith whose most recent post actually put me in mind of the Sydney Opera House sails.   Lately I’ve been working on some deconstructed circles and while I was making them, a few other ideas came to mind about patterns of arcs.  My actual planning, um, visual diary, page has a group of doodles on it with so much other stuff, like lists of possible names, and other comments, that I selected out a couple of diagrams and re-drew them out on a plain sheet to include in a scan image for this post –

I do such diagrams sometimes as I am in the middle of working on something so that I don’t forget the brainwave I’ve had.  So they are loaded with information you can’t see, but I will share some with you – the top left hand square is boring and I labelled it so.  The top right hand square I’m no longer sure what it means as nothing seems obvious to me.  Lower left I was thinking of arcs of one colour with the darker shaded ends representing of that colour’s opposite on the colour wheel… maybe, or something like a bright red tip at the end of every arc no matter what colour – though the arcs would then probably be shades of all the one colour zone, like all blues; though I don’t normally work in blue. probably because much of my inspiration has always been landscape.  


Of Mists And Mellow Fruitfulness

May 14th, 2017









A couple of days ago as I stepped through the front gate to go walking, I caught sight of a dead preying-mantis kind of insect on the pathway.  About 4 inches/6cm long, it struck me as perfectly coloured for this time of year, and I wondered if  the colours of this insect change as autumn advances.  So here it is with a couple of supporting pics taken today in our slightly dank mouldy-smelling garden. Nature never fails to impress – and winter’s on its way.

Art Quilts Exhibition – Touring Australia

May 5th, 2017

In 2017 I made the following quilt “Purnululu #7” in a series of works with the same landscape scheme.  While working through it, I blogged and showed more images here and here,












“Purnululu #7” Currently travelling with SAQA exhibition “My Corner Of  The  World”


Australian landscapes such as Purnululu and Uluru, known in the past as the Bungle Bungles and Ayers Rock respectively, are distinctive examples of weathered sandstone landforms or karst topography. To the Australian Aboriginal people these and other similar places have always held strong cultural and spiritual significance.  Today non-Aboriginal Australians and foreign visitors find Purnululu and similar Outback places great destinations for travel and education.

“Purnululu #7” is already quite well travelled in Canada and USA with the juried SAQA art quilt exhibition “My Corner Of The World”.     Made while I’ve been living here in Uruguay, it’s already gone to places I never have visited.  But starting later this month it will travel to places I do know well, appearing with the others in this collection at textile and craft events in these Australian cities on the following dates:

My Corner of the World
Craft & Quilt Fair, Perth, West Australia, Australia • May 24 – 28, 2017
Craft & Quilt Fair, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia • August 10 – 13, 2017
Intocraft Handmade Expo, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia • August 17 – 20, 2017
Craft & Quilt Fair, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia • September 11 – 12, 2017
Intocraft Handmade Expo, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia • November 24 – 26, 2017


What happened Brisbane? Why no Hobart?  Darwin – are you there?

Discovering A Long Forgotten Work

April 18th, 2017

This morning by chance I found a photo of a long forgotten quilt from 2006-2008:









Also in the file I found a photo of half of it mounted in a frame – so clearly I had chopped it down and sold or given the pieces away, which I don’t remember just now; but whatever happened to those, I might have been a bit hasty in chopping it down 🙂 as I now really like it …  It’s from an era in which I applied a lot of leather pieces to quilts, the best known of which, Timetracks 1″, middle lower row, was in Quilt National 07.









Many feature holes punched through leather units as part of the design, but these myriads of little holes are out of the question now given the arthritis in my hands.  The detail uppper left is Timetracks 3, one of several I made using leather for this repeat unit I have so often used. In my mind it’s a bare-bones diagram of erosion at work, one that has become important to me as the umbrella metaphor for passage of time change in all of Life itself. Interestingly there were also work-in-progress pics with my untitled discovery, so I include these partly as a belated documentation effort, but also to remind you of how my embroidery informs much of what I do.















I love stitch constructions on detached warps – aka needleweaving, and in 2007 blogged about these two pieces, Behind the Scenes 1 & 2,  from 1987.


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