New Beginnings

I’ve been struggling to push all the OCA stuff down now that I have dropped out of that and plan to continue to use my domain name to put in my own personal research and work plans.

I’ve completed my BFA last year and this year am just trying to enter a bunch of exhibitions, mostly quilting, but also others, with a view to having ongoing goals this year. Then next year I hope to do honours, because I really miss the place and the people and want to continue to pursue an art focus into my golden years 🙂

Project three, Experimenting and taking risks

I’d like to think I’ve already done lots of experimenting, because I claim that as my thing, but in this project I will try and push it to extremes even for me. I’m excited to get started.

Lying awake last night when I should have been sleeping before work thinking about experimenting I could do:

-Very thick yarn with central white core and cloud of blue thread. Bulky enough that it could be displayed on its own. Maybe it could be arranged in a triangle like a shell. Maybe needle felted to turn back into a flat work

-nest of shredded fabric held together with stitch. Not too adventurous but maybe I’ll try it unbacked so it has light through.

-green rug pulled stitching thread and yarn.

-heavily worked and built up surface to look rusted. Maybe rust stained and then work the turtle surface around that

– manipulate fabric with heat

– resist lines crackle on cyanotype. Maybe I can create these simply by crushing the fabric before exposure. Layered cyanotype some sort of glue resist or wax resist

– hone in on super detail of one of the drawings

-build up imagery and texture with multiple layers of organza

– make cyanotype transparencies that could be layered and also allow repetition for more cyanotypes😀

Thread tangle substrate

The first of my experimental textiles. This is a substrate made from a crocheted thread tangle with the addition of further tangle stitching. It’s only very small because it took ages and I’m not sure this is the most effective way of achieving this sort of substrate. I have painted it with paint and textile medium and this keeps it together a bit and more like 2d substrate to work on.

Thread as substrate and fabric as thread

Here I have used stone paper as a stabiliser but then tried to build up a surface with thread. As this is just a tester I haven’t taken it as far as it could go. Then I’ve use torn fabric as my thread for stitching. Same sort of thing could be done on water soluble vilene to make it an entirely thread substrate.

Yarn as fabric

Here I have taken the tangle thread to a further extreme by repeatedly sewing sock wool over water soluble vilene and then washing away the vilene. This has produced quite a stable complex fabric that is easy to stitch into. More subtle colouring of the wool would be better so it was more about texture and less colour contrast.

Next I am looking at distressing fabric with the use of repeated cyanotype exposure, bleaching with washing powder, rusting and toning with tannins.

Photo here

Stitch will also be added in an attempt to reference the turtles back drawing.

Project Two Building a response

Colour palette

Can’t use the internet at present but reflecting on my drawings and their original source materials from the natural environment of Heron Island, I think I am going with:

Sky blue

Teal blue


Muted pink/orange


Darker brown

Green blue and brown will be the predominant with pinky orange as highlight.

The above is a starting point. I find that the CMYK numbers help me get proportions right for mixing colours or dyeing.

I don’t think the inks I have with me are true primaries, especially the red but we’ll see how I go creating some chips later.

This little turtle was found struggling towards the water on the beach. Sadly a seagull took him. I looked the colour palette because I was attracted to the blue gray and this colour palette makes me think of dulling down the palette for this collection a bit.

Inspired by an artist

Sue Hotchkis

I’ll have to wait until I’m back with internet access to include images and more information but I love the textural and colour elements of Sue’s work and I think it relates well to the direction I seem to be heading for this assignment. She includes lots of fine detail which is very effective and something I feel is often lacking in my work. I tend to rush the work and lose patience with the effort required to create the sort of complex work that I first envision. Viewed 21 June 2018 Viewed 21 June 2018

Susan works with an aesthetic of decay and the imperfect and is influenced by the Japanese wabi Sabi aesthetic. She is interested in the interaction between the natural and man made and how they both change each other. She also uses text in some of her work, which is something I have also been experimenting with.

I have also been working with degradation and rusting and enjoy the serendipity of results when some of the result is left up to the elements.

Betty Busby

This quilt is from a gallery on Betty’s website called macro.

It reflects the features of a macro photo. Lots of detail looked at closely to effectively abstract the imagery but it still retains a familiarity that is recognisable. Viewed 21 June 2018

I would like to incorporate some of these elements of semi abstracted imagery sourced from close detail of natural or unnatural objects.

Sue Reno

Uses cyanotype and moisture, calling it wet cyanotype. Like my starfish cyanotype. Then she makes art quilts. Need to research and write her up.

Lisa Walton

Australian quilt artist.

Here she has used traditional appliqué over traditional patchwork to wonderful effect. Something I would like to try. Viewed 10 July 2018

Reading the above I can see that this is not appliqué but instead is quilted then painted. I saw this in the work of Glad Howard at the Tasmanian art quilt prize and am also interested in incorporating that. I image that quilt lines would contain paint to some extent and maybe even contain thin dye. Am going to try soon.

Ann Johnston

Textile artist that works in quilts. Seems to focus on colour, texture and abstract pattern to create evocative works.

Balance 30: In Between

33” x 23”

Iron stained silk, whole cloth, machine and hand stitched Viewed 10 July 2018

Surface manipulation, stitch and yarn concepts

Preliminary ideas –

1. Grid creasing paper to create the sort of lit grid of the play of light over water ripples that I fairly unsuccessfully tried to draw. Maybe I could cut the tops off the creases to allow more light through. Creases could also be held in place with stitch.

2. Nest shape molded in paper with the use of glue and then fine loose stitching to outline

3. Coral shape drawing cut out as a silhouette and then cut into pieces and reassembled like a mosaic with spaces in between like the cell looking drawings.

4. Create translucent paper with textile medium and gentle colour

5. Shiny paper with Elmer’s school glue.

Moving on to some textile stitch and yarn explorations. Here I have cut silhouettes from paper and reconstituted using Joomchi. Then have stitched on silhouette yarn. This is referencing the layering of the silk organza cyanotype drawing and their silhouettes.

Sock wool yarn used to create a hairy green yarn and a paper manipulation also referencing my seaweed drawing.

I seem to have lost the hours of work I put in putting up all my textile and yarn concepts. OMG I can’t write all that again now. I’ll just put up all the photos and let them speak for themselves at the moment.

If I get time or motivation I’ll go back and write up all these photos like I did the other day but in the meantime I’ll just curse and move on I think.

Part Five Building a collection. Project one

Strengthening a theme:

I’m going to revisit tropical tourist. When I last did this theme I was on Hamilton Island. This is a commercial tourist resort island with some permanent residents, large hotels and an airport. I used garish items obtained from the local souvenir shop for my still life.

Insert photo here when I have access to my old photos again

This time I will be taking a slightly different slant on the theme. We are holidaying on Heron Island now. Heron is a remote coral cay on the barrier reef. It has a resort and a marine research station. It is a haven for birds, fish and turtles and is situated right on the coral of the Great Barrier Reef. I plan to use found items only for this still life. It will be a combination of natural and unnatural objects from the beach and the local environs I will need to return any natural material as it is a national park and no natural material can be removed.


I plan to use a range of drawing techniques and the first I am currently experimenting with is cyanotype. This involves using chemicals to sensitise fabric to UV light and produces a Prussian blue pigment in the exposed areas.

My first idea was to walk around the island regularly and collect any rubbish left behind on the beach after the high tide. Fortunately I guess this didn’t really result in much. Mostly small pieces of glass. My first attempt at a cyanotype drawing here with the found rubbish is above. I was using rubbish partly because I am allowed remove that from the beach to set up a still life. But I don’t think this will result in enough variation of texture and interest to create a still solely from this. There are so many wonderful nature colours and textures around that it would be a shame to ignore all that.

So I moved on to considering including natural objects.

I set up a couple of mini still lifes in situ on the beach and was quite pleased with the results.

Insert photo of result here

My next thought was to bring some of these objects back to the cabin and work with them there to create various still lifes that I could draw and then return the objects later.

Unfortunately once I had set this up I watched it for a while and noticed some of the shells moving. I realised that I had taken living creatures from the beach and felt I had to return them as quickly as possible. So this turned out to be a one shot only still life. I felt bad and hope I didn’t damage the creatures.

Here I am returning them to the beach.


I was excited when I saw an old rusty wreck beached off the island and immediately thought of documenting this through rusty fabric. I successfully snorkelled out and attached a piece of fabric to the boat at high tide.

This photo was taken at low tide when I discovered you could walk out to the boat.

It didn’t seem to be rusting much so I moved it to another spot. Unfortunately after 24 hours it was gone. I attached it tightly so I’m hoping someone simply removed it thinking it was rubbish. I chose silk in case it did come loose, thinking it would be biodegradable, but I’d hate to think that somewhere a sea creature was caught in it in the meantime. I seem to be having a run of endangering creatures in the name of art and I don’t like this.

I have tied silk in a couple of more accessible spots that I can check regularly, and where they are tied firmly through a loop so cannot come loose.

And yesterday I added a new spot just around the high tide mark. I had to change the position because when I came to check the high tide wasn’t quite reaching it.

It’s on a chain that is fixed to a block of concrete in the sand under those rocks which I placed to mark it.

These wonderful tide marks were present in the sand when I last checked the fabric.

And this is a 97 sec video on the tide just reaching my work in progress.

Ink and Watercolour

I’m going to move on to some ink and watercolour drawings from photographs of reef life. It’s not possible to include these in a still life as they are part of the living reef but they need to be included in a documentation of the island as they are such an integral part of this beautiful place.


I’m going to use adobe Capture to look at various colour palettes for the area.

This is the gentle palette I created from the sand water and sky at sunset. I loved this when I came out of the bush and saw it.

Sea star from the reef walk. I’m going to look at all the colour palettes and then create my own. Probably a blue green palette. In the meantime I’ll do some colour drawings in these palettes

Pisonia tree salt leaf. Apparently all the salt that builds up is directed to single leaves in order to sacrifice a few for the good of the tree.

Seaweed growing along the bunt wall


Purple coral

Plant printing

I’ve buried some paper and fabric under the Pisonia tree near our hut and I’m watering it and compressing it with my feet. Probably won’t get much but I’ll be able to augment with drawing.

These spiders and spider webs in the forest also make great imagery.

The drawings

I decided to take some small items from above the high tide mark that definitely don’t contain animals.

This drawing takes the colour and some of the linear elements and form from this little still life.

I have used textile medium primed silk and then watercolour and acrylic ink. The idea is to produce a washable drawing and I have had some success. Some of the watercolour did wash out but most stayed. That was only with handwashing though and it’s likely that more would come out with machine washing. Also the fabric has gone very translucent which is not fantastic. Next time I will try with watercolour diluted with textile medium and see how that goes.

This is an example of a cyanotype still life I did yesterday.

In progress

After processing

And this is a cyanotype on paper instead of fabric

Unfortunately it got a hole during processing. I guess I’ll repair with stitch or reverse appliqué

Silver eye birds nest made from Pandanus fibre

Ink on stone paper

Ink and a “nest” of tangled silk fibre from the edge of my fabric.

Ink, water and glue on stone paper. From a piece of dead coral.

Purple and fushia pink/orange coral. Unfortunately the color looks totally wrong in this photo. Only slightly better in real life.

This is watercolour and textile medium on silk. I am learning that textile medium will bind watercolour to fabric. An additional bonus is the effect of irregular colour where the dots of textile medium have been placed.

Clam in ink watercolour and textile medium on paper. These ones had to be from photos and on site observation.

Coral cells and seaweed. Ink on stone paper.

I have retrieved two of the rustings. Hardly any marks but the photos look ok.

This was the result of rusting around a chain, with the tides.

Those tide patterns in the sand are created by tiny balls of seaweed and the shadows. I have tried to use that idea to inform the mark I made for this drawing.

Textile medium on paper sensitised with cyanotype and exposed. The pale areas are areas of washout of chemical before they have been fixed with exposure.

Another cyanotype moved by pouring water along the base.

Assignment Four: Reflections

I enjoyed this assignment very much. I felt like there was more making involved and that is what I enjoy. I did go off on a bit of a tangent with spinning, which I’ve only just touched on before, and I rediscovered macrame and braiding from my distant past.

Overall I’m finding that this course is demonstrating how you can build a textile work from the ground up. Making every part to suit your intentions. I haven’t thought much about making the materials before, including making yarn, and I can see how this would enhance a project.

I wasn’t very happy with my presentation of the yarns though. It would have been more satisfying for me if I could have found a way of looking at them all at once in a pile of a box. Instead I chose to attach them all to card. I have attempted to leave one part free to allow movement to be demonstrated and to touch the yarn.

I haven’t yet mastered the subtle colour and texture section. My colours remained all too intense despite multiple attempts. I needed to take the time and find the patience to use much smaller amounts of diluted colour for a better result.

I was happy with the paper mache yarns. They were surprisingly strong and despite being stiff and holding there shape, they were also malleable, especially when wet.

The wool spun yarns were fun to experiment with, but here I suspect I was more experimenting with spinning that with yarn construction. They were successful but fairly traditional yarns.

The deconstructed yarns were exciting to work with. I wasn’t sure what result I would get as I deconstructed the materials and I love that uncertainty and potential for surprise.

Starting to construct simple forms was very satisfying. It opened my eyes to the potential of braiding and the possibility of building forms for use in artworks, from the ground up.

I’m pretty happy with this unit and I feel I got a lot out of it, that I can apply to future projects.

Assessment criteria review

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I like to use a wide range of materials and techniques, and believe I am aware of the possibilities detailed observation can bring to a work. I’m not sure how I go really with design and composition. In relation to this assignment I used design elements directly related to the previous works I was observing and they were arranged fairly traditionally.

Quality of outcome

I was happy with the yarns, but as I mentioned above, I was not very happy with the presentation of the final collection. I would rather it had sat together as a single coherent work, rather than mounted on the the thin board and arranged in a concertina book that was floppy and distracting to manage.

Demonstration of creativity

I love to experiment and explore and this is always a feature of my work. I would have to say that my personal voice seems to be about process and surprise, and the final works are somewhat lacking in finish, coherence and concept.


A weak point of mine. I research techniques but probably don’t research artists enough. I take my information from all sorts of sources and continue to not be aware of where I best fit.

Collage inspired yarn (4.5)

I have chosen to work from just one collage for this segment. This collage has contrasting textures and simple but interesting colours.

Button yarn was fun to do but pretty time consuming. The flower motif was not the most relevant but it was all I had in that colour. Woven yarn was tricky because of the delicacy of the ribbon and is fairly uninteresting. The glued collage tape on the right references collage more clearly and I was able to also incorporate the shape in the original collage.

On the left is rug hooked elastic. I consider this successful as a technique but to be honest it doesn’t link back to the original collage very well.

Finally I have a multilayered glued yarn. I was trying to reference the layering in the base of the collage with the blue sitting on top. It doesn’t do it for me. I would have been better using tissue paper as in the original collage for a better layered effect but I didn’t have those papers available at the time.

Deconstructing colour as yarn. (4.4)

The watercolour line paintings were used to guide the colours and translucency of the materials I have chosen to deconstruct and create yarn.

Rope is deconstructed progressively until I discover it it’s made of a monofilament of nylon fused with a softer fluffy nylon thread. I have manipulated the photograph here to highlight the finer threads which didn’t show well on their original white background.

Cotton yarn is unplyed and then the single is further drafted out and reknotted as it was too delicate to stay together.

Loosely woven teatowel is pulled apart and partially unpicked. I did try to remove whole threads to simply open the weave more but that proved too difficult to hold together so I had to make a few cuts to facilitate removal of some of the thread. If I had done it with a larger piece of fabric and then cut the loose weave out later it may have worked.

Even though I cut this seemingly holey sponge as thin as I could it doesn’t really give the airy look that I am going for.

I considered these deconstructed straws some of the more successful. It is helped by the translucency being evident even in the original straws.

Again this starting solid material isn’t too solid already and the deconstruction here is pretty basic but the resulting yarn is a successful light airy yarn.

Some less successful attempts. The left hand cotton interlock tape has not deconstructed at this point to be light and airy. If I continued the process and went over it again with scissors I could probably open it up a bit more.

In the centre is a piece of hand dyed silk/hemp. The surrounding yarn is actually just tangled yarn retrieved from the dryer. I tried to emulate this on the right by washing, manipulating and drying a piece of the silk/hemp but it has not unwound enough in the washing. Again if I had worked with a large piece and then just pulled my “yarn” off the edge at the end I may have had more success.

Exercise 4.3 Re-interpret, re-invent

I have started this section by looking at my materials from the yarn wraps in response to the old masters painting, which was of a girl sewing by Vermeer.

I’ve tried to include the essential colours across all the five yarns but haven’t included too many colour ways in the one yarn for fear of muddying the colours. I have utilised the sumptuous textures in the painting by including lacy, shiny and velvety materials.

Now I need to create small structures with a technique such as macrame or crochet. I think that the mood of the painting most suggests braiding to me but I’m not sure that I will achieve the firm contour associated with braiding using my yarns.

When I was in Vietnam a couple of years ago I learnt a braiding technique from a lady who ran a craft shop there. I’m going to see if I can remember that and maybe research a bit more around braiding. I can do Kumihumo braiding but I am looking for a more simple flat structure braid here to best display these yarns.

I’ve had a look at a you tube video to remind me of the macrame. I’ve last done macrame maybe 40 years ago and I was excited to try it again. It’s deceptively simple with just a few basic knots as elucidated by Andy Newcombe in this appealing video with its giant macrame ropes 🙂 Viewed 25 March 2017

I’ve also tried to remember the braiding I did in Vietnam but it turned out a bit rough and irregular.

My braiding on left and spiral macrame on the right.

I think a flat braid best shows the yarn. Here I have done a flat macrame, then I tried a simple braid which was a plait, and finally and six thread flat braid. I was really enthused by that. It’s like off loom weaving where the threads are both warp and weft. I’ve never actually tried that before and I would love to try a much wider one. I’m really attracted to simple techniques that just use simple equipment and limited set up.

Had some fun making simple structures with my yarns.

Had to ad lib a bit because of various problems. Understand the braiding now, just take the outside thread and weave across to the middle, then back to the other side. That’s what I’ve done for the first two and it was good for the ric rac because it allowed me to keep it flat. I decided to use macrame for the second two (from left to right) because I only had short lengths and I used an extra central ribbon to knot my yarn around.

Finally the right hand one would have unravelled if I cut it, so I used a very simple hand built crochet chain instead. I would have liked to try braiding it but next time I’ll need to plan ahead for that.

Reflective commentary

I really enjoyed this section. It felt good to be actually making something even if it was only a little useless form. I had forgotten about macrame and have never understood braiding. I’ve only touched on a couple of braiding techniques but I like to just learn the basics and then just run with it rather than follow patterns. I was happy with my hemp samples and tried to move towards which technique would most suit my yarn samples.

I encountered a few problems along the way. I found that when I had cut my materials to make the yarn that there was a lot of fraying that took away from the smooth lush appearance I had hoped to achieve to resonate with my Vermeer painting with its lush painted textures. I also found that the sparkly materials shed a lot which contaminated other yarns and was unpleasant to work with. I had to have a few attempts and getting my structures to lay flat and unpick the ones that just looked like a tangle. I also hadn’t thought ahead to the technique when I made the yarn. The crocheted yarn could not be cut without unravelling and was therefore not suitable for braiding. As a result the final form was not as dense as I intended as I had to devise a structure from a single thread.

I feel like I have gained the ability to braid any number of threads in at least one pattern and think that I would be able to change up that pattern and explore other configurations of braiding. I am quite excited by this new skill as I love to learn new things and especially love simple techniques that don’t use lots of equipment and are also longstanding, ancient crafts. I love to take a new craft and see how I can make it my own by not learning too many rules and rather trying out things for myself.

I felt that the imagery and mood of the Vermeer painting was one of lush domesticity. I tried to include materials of the colours in the painting and combined them in groups of two or three to save muddying the original colours. I also chose textural materials to emphasis the lush velvets and materials present in the painting. Finally I have used braiding as my main technique as I feel it references the decor and techniques of the time. Also in keeping with the past I have not used the machine for any sewing but have included some hand stitch where necessary.

Review point: Demonstration of creativity

I think I’ve been a bit limited in my creativity around the yarn making to date. I have only used a limited number of techniques to produce yarn and in the last section I have focussed entirely on trying to spin yarn. I find that I get engrossed in trying to improve a particular technique if I enjoy it and don’t really spend enough time considering other possible solutions. Having said that I think I am quite good at pulling in techniques and ideas from a variety of disciplines in order to adapt and create a technique suited to my current project.

I try to keep my eyes out for ideas from all sources and find that some of the best ideas come when I’m not trying to concentrate on problem solving but have just kept my current project in mind as I go about my day. As far as personal voice goes, I’m not really sure I understand what this means. I can see there are aspects of image making that I gravitate towards, namely serendipity, complexity and colour, but I don’t seem to keep my interests narrow. I have a tendency to leap from one technique to another without fully developing a single one. I’m not sure if this is working for me or against me. It is useful to have a range of techniques to consider when looking at the best way to develop an image, but then perhaps I do end up as “master of none”.

And just because I don’t like to have a post without an image, here is a photo of a textile work from a couple of years ago where I have stitched back into a piece of wax resisted fabric. 😀