Old School (2012)
It’s Never Too Late to Mend Exhibition – Incinerator Gallery
Bringing the technique of fence stitching into a gallery context, ‘Old School’ is a homage to the embroidery designers of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. ‘Old School’ is a reference to the little understood history of political craft. ‘Old School’ pays tribute to remix culture and those who seek to keep knowledge free.
I’m excited to be a part of this exhibition opening tomorrow night!
My Bikes Not Bombs doiley will be there amongst the most amazing collection of doiley inspired art you have ever seen. I’ve had a sneak peek and there’s some truly wonderful creations.
Hope to see you there!
2 Ballarat Street
Friday March 16th
Exhibition dates: 16th March to 13th April
Readers of this site will know I’m not a big fan of fences. I do believe they serve mostly unproductive purposes. However the some that are important and useful, like to keep kiddies safe etc needn’t be so darn ugly all the time! And of course the ugliest of fences is a chain link or hurricane fence. They do however make great canvases!
We have a big fence around our community garden where we have our Permaculture Playgroup and it does serve a useful purpose, it keeps the little kids in and almost keeps the big bored night time naughty kids out, almost.. Over the last year and a bit I’ve been coordinating little projects to help beautify our fence and to make it function a bit better.
I started with a moving mural on the south side of the garden to act as a bit of a wind break. We keep adding to it with our scraps and it looks great, especially when you enter the park from the south side and you get the best view of it. We have two main winds, a westerly and a southerly. When it comes form the west, the strips of fabric flap and wave in the wind, looking really pretty. When it comes from the south the fabric gets pushed flat against the fence and helps keep the wind from heading straight at the kids in the sandpit.
All the fabric is attached using a basic latch hook rug style technique. Is there a name for this type of knot, anyone?
We’ve also been weaving little hearts a la outdoorknit along one little part of the fence. It’s a spot visible from the playground and the shops across the road and whilst they serve no functional purpose, they make the garden look so friendly and inviting despite the great hunka fence around it!
Not fence related but still lovely was the bunting we made last year with bumble bees gocco’d on some of the flags. Along with the streamers fluttering around the garden it gives the place a truly festive atmosphere!
Next up was the infamous bra bug gardens. They didn’t hold up too well in the weather. You definitely need to use a padded bra! The one I used was black and it’s faded quite a lot, so I recommend if anyone makes any of these you go over board with the decorations. One of the ones I made collapsed and the other one was doing ok but then the potting shed got moved in front of it so I’m not sure how it’s doing now..
But I’ve taken the same theory and expanded on it! I went to Reverse Art Truck aka heaven, a while back and amongst my treasures, Iscored a pile of industrial cardboard cotton spools. We decorated the outsides of them by spray painting a base layer and then sticking some lace on and spraying again with a contrasting colour then peeling the lace off. Instant pretty patterns!
We filled the spools with a layer of toy stuffing (cause I had some dirty stuff lying around) but you could use straw mulch or anything. just something to plug the hole at the bottom of the spool. Then we filled them with dirt and stuck a little baby succulent in each one.
Some of the spools were tied to the fence, some were stuck in the branches of the vine that grows on that part of the fence. We chose to do it there so when the vine covers itself in leaves over the summer months, it’ll provide some shade for the plants, and then they get the sunshine in summer!
The bright colours on the spools also went beautifully with a craft project we did a couple of weeks ago which also ended up on the fence.
Next step is to experiment with what we can grow in them. I started with the easiest but keen to hear any suggestions for food plants that might like minimal amounts of soil and water and plenty of sunlight. Yeah, I know..
Next project plan is to experiment with fence weaving techniques, so til then, happy fence arrrting
You are cordially invited to the final event of my residency at the awesomely lovely Iramoo Community Centre. As part of the Show Us Your Arts day, I will be presenting the work ‘WE are Wyndham Vale’ to the community centre.
Following the unveiling, I’ll be holding a FREE coiled weaving workshop. Come along and learn the basic technique of the ancient art of coiled weaving with some unusual materials and a few radical applications. The workshop will be held in the community centre kitchen and there will be ample supplies of tea and cake. Naturally. You can RSVP here. Places are very limited so please call the centre or email me to book your spot.
There will be a heap of other artistic activities happening around the centre on the day. The flyer is below. Be sure to call the centre to book any of the events you are interested in.
A big thanks to the Iramoo Community Centre and the Wyndham City Council for supporting this event.
I don’t know about you mob, but whilst this portrait of Madame de Pompadour sitting upright at her Tambour frame is fabulous, it’s not quite what you would see if you bowled into my house and caught me stitching. Rather, you’re more likely to find me slouching on the couch or hanging on a seat outside watching the kids run around. And I don’t ever get much time to stitch, I just grab 10 minute sessions here and there between nappies, feeding kids, tidying up the never ending mess and keeping the garden ticking along.
So I have recently begun a pretty major project which involves a piece of cloth which is 1.2 x 1.4 metres in size. I have a table tapestry frame, beautifully hacked by my dad and it’s over a metre wide so I can get a massive bit of fabric on it. But it’s not terribly easy to move around and it really does need a table which is not terribly convenient in our lounge. So I’ve been humming and aahing over a little solution, asked around the interwebs a bit and I think I’ve invented something! If anyone has seen anything like this let me know! If I haven’t invented it, at least I gave it a great name
The problem with working a large piece of fabric on a hoop is that you have to put the fabric somewhere. I know people fold up the edges and clip it but it still means a lot of handling of the fabric and that’s always something to minimise. I thought to myself, what about stuffing it in a bag? That could work, but then hanging onto the bag as well as the hoop could get annoying. Then Valerie mentioned on our Facebook Page that she knew a lady who put it in a pillowcase. Ooh that’s clever! Nice and soft too.
Then a little spark kicked in my brain of a tiny little hack you could make to a pillowcase to make it work just ace. So here’s a tutorial!
How to make a Hoopdaloopdahoop!
Four 15cm strips of ribbon or leftover fabric, anything will do so long as it’s thin and not too wide. Go through your scraps, something will pop out.
Four press studs/domes/whatever you call them where you live. Or buttons, or maybe velcro, whatever you have lying around. Something to attach with, it’ll be clear in the tutorial.
Needle & thread
Sew your four strips of fabric/ribbon to the top of the opening of the pillowcase at evenly spaced intervals. It’s not necessary to measure, just use your eye. You could machine sew this on but I just handsewed them on, didn’t take long, less time than getting the sewing machine out. And it didn’t use any electricity!
Attach your press studs/buttons/velcro whatever to the top of the strips of fabric and a couple of centimetres from the edge of the pilowcase. There needs to be enough strip there to wrap around an embroidery hoop. If you’re using buttons you’ll need a sewing machine to make button holes. Sorry, no idea how you do that The picture below shows how it needs to work.
Figure out which part of the fabric you want to be working on and stuff the rest of the fabric into the pillowcase, leaving the bit you want sticking out the top. You may want to mark the centre with an embroidery pen or some such. If you are working far from the edge you will still need to fold or roll the fabric back to the point where you will be working and secure somehow, with a clip or something. But you’ll only need to do one side so you have access to the back of the fabric. Stuff, stuff!
Clip or button or stick your straps over the part of the embroidery hoop you have on the top of the fabric. Some people use the bit with the screw on top, some use the other bit. However you roll.. Then secure the other part of the embroidery hoop underneath and tighten onto your fabric. You will notice in the picture I only have two strips attached. Firstly I only had three sets of press studs and secondly I broke one while attaching. It’s possible to only have two, but I recommend at least three so the fabric is well secured within the case. The objective is to not have to deal with the fabric so the straps act as a fence.
Tuck any excess fabric into the pillowcase and get stitching!
That only took me about 20 minutes to make, including photographing and toddler interruptions, so pretty darn easy! Hopefully this is helpful for some of you out there. Please let me know if you come up with any different/easier ways of doing it. Maybe someone out there has a good idea on how to close it off at the top for when you need to put your project away?
Now I’m off to keep working on my epic project and see how this baby works. Will keep you posted.
Another day of exploring and this time instead of staying on the freeway the whole way down, I jumped off at Laverton and took the back roads down to Wyndham Vale. I really wanted to check out the fringes of the city and see if it was all different or similar to around Wyndham Vale. What really struck me was the total saturation of franchise stores. Aside from a medical centre and a vet, I didn’t see a single independent store. No milk bars, nothing.
This made me really quite sad. Partly because it demonstrated just how intensely packaged and contrived corporate property developments are. But mostly because it means that there are no locals who can or want to start their own local independent business. Whether this is a result of corporate plans, council regulations or lack of economic incentive, I think it is one of the side effects of urban sprawl that should be discussed more.
I dropped into the studio to drop off some stuff and to say Hi! to Harry. Harry is awesome, I’ll introduce you to him sometime soon.
And then I went for a wander along the creek. Aside from taking advantage of the studio space I have been given, I really want to take advantage of the natural space. As a mother of three young children it’s very rare for me to have time to myself, especially during daylight hours. And as an only child, it has been quite a struggle to get used to. So as one of the aims of my residency I want to try and walk along Lollipop Creek or the Werribee River at least once a week.
I staunchly believe that an essential part of the creative process, no matter what you do, is rambly thinking time. It’s like doodling with your brain.
Well it sounds nice in theory. When you have small kids this sort of time doesn’t happen very often. Especially when one of your children is four. And NEVER stops talking. Ever.
Virginia Woolf spoke about a woman having a room of her own. And it is absolutely true. However, I have discovered with my own craft practice that my room is often in my mind. I can have a physical space to make no problems, it’s creating the mental space that is the tricky part. So making space for a walk along the creek might seem like a trivial use of time.
After my walk today I went for a bit more of an explore of the fringes of town and I checked out the great BMX track the local kids have built. It’s clearly been used for a while and I just adored the old chair that was lovingly (don’t tell them I said that) dragged to the top of the hill. I could totally imagine the tricks you had to pull to get to sit in it.
It was a blimmin great spot to check out the plains from. Dunno if you know this but Wyndham Vale has minor cult status due to it being the set for the first of the Mad Max films. Wyndham Vale is apparently known as Mad Max Country (although I’m yet to find someone who actually calls it that). I’m sad to think this BMX track, and these gorgeous plains will be the victim of a massive new development. Hopefully the track at least lasts a while longer.
Next step was the local Salvos where I found a fantastic piece of needlework. It’s an illustrated alphabet stitched with wool on a rug canvas. It’s going to look great in the kids room. Although I reckon it might even get a stint in the lounge. I also popped in to check out the Cultural Centre and it was brilliant to meet the staff in there. I totally fell in love with these birds!
They’re peregrine falcons, a male and a female and I did ask who made them but neglected to write it down. I’ll find out. They were originally made as puppets and if you attach poles to them they can ‘fly’. Just brilliant. I love clever people.
Last stop was a detour to the Craft Circle on the off chance that it might be open and it was! I’ve heard so much about this fabulous shop from friends who frequent it. And I’ve been meaning to drop in for ages.
It was simply lovely to have some quiet time admiring all the handmade and hand dyed yarns and felts and the gorgeous range of handmade fabric and wooden toys. I had a great chat with the woman who runs the store and picked up a couple of sweet felted treats for the kids. Visiting a gorgeous local independent store, what a great antidote to the franchise fantasy I started my journey with!
It was a perfect Melbourne Autumn day when a bunch of lovely folk got together in the Iramoo Community Centre to embark on an epic wee apple sauce making session. See the EcoLiving Centre where my studio is has a huge apple tree outside. A random act of inspiration hit me when I saw hundreds of apples going to waste. My inner desire to waste not want not led me to start a sauce making day. I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to introduce myself to the locals and kick off the residency.
Coincidentally there was already a community swap meet in the progress of being organised so the two events were merged and a community day was born!
Wyndham Vale is out in the sprawling meetropolis on the edge of Melbourne. And it’s a rapidly growing area with Wyndham Vale having the highest population growth in the country last year. But like all suburbs filled with busy working people, struggling to grow a strong sense of community. That’s what I love about community kitchens, they have a fabulous way of bringing people together.
So a group of like minded folk gathered in the kitchen armed with peelers, knives, measuring cups and wooden spoons. (hint #1 have lots of peelers!). Soon the smell of cinnamon was wafting through the centre.
There was a bouncing castle, a swap meet, a brilliantly awesome coffee cart and a mental note to my love to take photos of these things next time!
Once we got the first batch cooked and jarred and the next bunch on the go I did a short chat about myself and the craft I do and then got into our Gocco session.
We were blessed to have the very awesome creative talents of Pilgrim from Draw! Pilgrim for our label design. And she’s agreed to have this label up as a free pdf download. Click here to download a nice printable version. It’s set up to fit most jar sizes.
I managed to give a very clear example of how NOT to do gocco first up! See we had this great design that was designed for two colours on each print. BUT in my nervous flustered rush to get it done I FORGOT to lift the plastic layer up before sticking on all the tiny bits of foam and then squeezing on all the ink. (hint #2 when running workshops take deep breaths and double check your steps!)
We probably could’ve figured a way of reusing that screen but I decided that time was ticking away so I just grabbed another and we got into it. We decided to keep it simple this time and not do the different colours rather do one label in each colour. I think they were feeling a bit sorry for me!
The first print was gorgeous! There was a hearty round of oohs and aahs and everyone was mad keen to give it a go. And I dare say there was a significant level of gocco converts in the group!
After some drying and cooling time, it was finally time to decorate the jars and they look HOT!
A heap more cooking and sterilising and stirring and printing and chopping and gluing ensued and before we knew it we had a bench covered in yummy scrummy jars of sauce. If anyone wants the recipe I’ve posted it at the bottom of this post.
And how chuffed were all the attendees to take home some jars? Yip, pretty blimmin chuffed. I for one went straight home and cranked up a roast pork and it was DELICIOUS.
Overall, the day was a brilliant success. What was most satisfying for me was bringing together a bunch of like minded people who are all based in the West and working in various ways on issues of community, environment and sustainability. But whom in most part didn’t know each other. Many great conversations were held and it was fabulous as a facilitator to be floating in and out of conversations about cooking, politics, climate change, gardening, parenting and economics. Even more exciting for me has been watching everyone connect on Facebook post event and continuing the conversations and collaborations.
The other aspect of the event that I was really happy about were the people who didn’t attend but still contributed. There were people contributing apples and jars all week even though they weren’t able to attend. I’m really looking forward to starting the next stage of the residency and meeting even more awesome locals!
Massive thanks to all who attended and made the day such a raving success.
APPLE SAUCE RECIPE
750ml (3 cups)
1kg granny smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) apple juice or water
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 x 7cm cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp mixed spice
Combine the apple, sugar, apple juice or water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks and mixed spice in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the apple is soft. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Set aside, uncovered, for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Transfer apple mixture to the jug of a blender or the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed (we didn’t bother doing this, just cooked it a bit longer and mashed it in the pot). Place in a clean saucepan and stir over low heat until heated through.
This apple sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
I am pleased as punch to announce the first event for my residency project at Iramoo “Sauce and Swap!”
On Saturday April the 30th, we’ll be saucing it up with apples from the tree at the EcoLiving Centre. And we’ll be making labels with a Gocco printer so if you’ve never used one before it’s your perfect opportunity to come give it a go! Draw! Pilgrim has done the label design and it is GORGEOUS! She also did the poster, isn’t it great!
At some stage between peeling, chopping, stirring, sterilising and printing, I’ll be giving a little introductory talk about my craft and what sort of stuff I’ll be getting up to during the residency.
And there’s a community swap meet going on as well. So bring all your unwanted (but good!) stuff and swap it for some other stuff. How rad is that?
If you are planning to come, please try and bring some jars. We need small sauce jars and lids, no more than 300ml in size. And if you can get the labels off before you come that will save us a heap of time on the day.
Don’t forget to help us spread the word amongst the locals. I’ve started meeting people, but I’m sure there’s tons of closet craft/apple sauce/community radness fans out there.
See you there!
Tomorrow is the first day of my exciting new adventure, a three month artist residency at the Iramoo Community Centre in Wyndham Vale. For those of you not terribly familiar with Wyndham Vale it’s right next to Werribee on Melbourne’s South-Western most border. In fact the community centre looks right out over some classic western basalt plains.
It’s an interesting little suburb. Some parts old and some parts new, both in houses and in people. It’s a quiet wee spot but has a really interesting and engaged little community. It’s very much like my suburb. One of those spots surrounded in busy bustlingness so often gets overlooked and as a result has a little village feel.
For my residency I’m going to be based in the local environment centre which is tucked away in a quiet street overlooking the delightfully tranquil Lollipop Creek. I’m going to be up to all sorts of lovely mischief involving different groups within the community and using all sorts of materials from local natural materials through to industrial offcuts from local businesses. And whatever else I stumble across along the way.
Alongside the environment centre is a giant heavily laden apple tree. So to kick start the residency I’m going to host a apple sauce making day with locals and anyone else interested in coming. Details about that soon.
In the meantime, I’d love to ear if any of my readers are out that way. Or if you know anyone who lives nearby who’d be interested in some craft workshops or just plain ol play time, please pass this on. I’ll be sending out email newsletters about this project so if you want to be on it, drop me a line.
(apologies the imbed is really small, youtube have changed their imbed system and I can’t work out how to make it a proper size. Here’s the video page if you need it)
One of my favourite crafts and an especially awesome craft to do with kids is bleach stencilling. We have a heap of bleach stencilled clothes in the wardrobe now and we always get great comments from our friends. It’s a great way to whip up a quick protest tee out of an old shirt too. Or you can use old scraps of fabric and make patches. Just remember the test spot. Some fabrics don’t take it at all and some colours are picky. I find greens and blues usually work best.
The singlet I used in this tutorial video was one of a pile of baby singlets I had donated to me. They’ve all been spunked up with an image of the great wind vane sculpture down at our community garden where we hold our Braybrook Sprouts Permaculture Playgroup. I’ve made a pile of these singlets to give to all the wee ones that join our group.
Bleach stencilling is a fabulous way to teach kids about how the fun works. As you can see in the video it literally works like magic in front of your eyes. And there’s so many other teachings you can incorporate depending on what you use as your stencil. Maybe use some shape blocks to make a picture. Or use some shapes found in the garden like leaves. Just ensure the edges are very close to the fabric or they will go blurry.
Have fun with this tutorial and feel free to share it around.