Friday, August 26, 2011

Lace at the Costume Collection

Not only were there clothes at the Costume Collection, there were drawers and drawers of lace.  It was all so beautiful and inspiring.

Not lace, strictly speaking, if I have remembered correctly. This was made with hairpins or similar and is more like crochet or knitting.
A few of us had fun remembering things we had seen in our childhoods, either in our own homes or those of our grandmothers.

We have some items that belonged to my mother and grandmother, so now I will have to dig them out and look at them in more detail.  Loel likes to have pieces that have a story with them, especially if the story has documents, such as photos, certificates, etc.  It makes the pieces much more interesting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Patchwork in the Costume Collection

I seem to return to my love of patchwork more and more often.  I couldn't resist taking some photos of the fashion items that included patchwork, at least in part.

A Maggie Shepherd jacket from the early 1990s.

This dress has some Seminole patterns.
Crazy patchwork.

A banner or some sort of window decoration, also crazy patchwork.

More Crazy patchwork samples.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Costume Collection

Last week we had an excursion to the Costume Collection in Bulleen.  It was amazing!! And huge.

I had heard of it through an article in the Age recently but had not organised a visit, it requires an appointment and I rarely manage to get myself into gear for those places.

The collection is a private one, run by Loel Thomson.  She spoke to us about her collection, that dates from 1788, and her interest in the less 'special' clothes that she likes. She talked about the way underwear shaped the body differently at different stages of history and how it is difficult to wear old fashions now because our current underwear does not shape our bodies appropriately, even if we could find clothes to fit our larger bodies.

Loel showed us a pair of underpants that especially interested her, they were probably made from an old sheet and were not well sewn, they indicated frugality and necessity.

There are 10,000 items in the collection - amazing, considering it is a private collection.  It is housed in rooms that do not have windows and has climate control.

The displays were organised into various periods and included not just clothes but jewellery and other accessories that would have gone with the fashions.  Even the hairdos of the mannequins were done to reflect the fashions of the time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Using Felt Balls

After learning how to make the small felt balls, I was excited to see the Down to the Woods stall at the Magnolia Square market in Ivanhoe, this weekend.  There they were, in all their colourful glory, lots of felted balls put together to make various items.
Used as jewellery.
Those are real acorn caps, I asked.

A floor rug - I think it was around the $300 mark, doesn't seem enough for the amount of work that must have gone into it.

A cushion.
 I don't know if I mentioned it in my blog post about making felt balls, but I wasn't sure how I could use them, now I have some ideas.  Not that I am going to make a rug, it would take AGES.  But it would be warm and soft on your feet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Owl and the Pussycat Returns

There was a pleasant surprise in the mail today, my small tapestry for the Owl and Pussycat project run by the AuNZ Tapestry Group.
I had worked on it from November 2010 but had not posted much about it because of the dilemma about whether to post pictures of works that are going to be in exhibitions.  Debbie Herd has been thinking about this too.
But now I have it back and I assume it is ok to put a picture up on my blog.

The image is developed from a conglomeration of pictures of the moon on the sea, owls and some of my own drawings.  I played with them in Photoshop until I got an image I liked.  This didn't translate exactly as I had hoped into tapestry, I probably should have used a smaller seine twine but I was happy with it anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making felt balls

Today I made some felted balls, or beads, depending on what you are going to do with them I suppose.  As part of my course, we are required to fundraise for the graduation show.  My group is going to put on some workshops and today I made some samples for demonstration - and to see if I could remember how to do it.
I used the book complete feltmaking by Gillian Harris.
The process is fairly simple:
You tease out some wool roving, loosely form it into a ball and then gently spray it with soapy (or baby shampoo in my case) water.

Then you hold it in your hand (which you have made a little soapy) and rub it around the palm until it is getting hard and almost the size you want.
You then roll it around on a bamboo mat, or similar, until it hard and the size you want.

Then you put it in boiling (or very hot) water, then into cold water and try to get all the soap out.  If you want it smaller, you can then roll it around more.

I then made a rope of felt by pulling some roving into a long piece, putting it through the soapy water and gently pulling it repeatedly through my hands until it started to get hard.  Then I laid it out on the bamboo mat and rolled it more, into a better tubular shape.

As I wanted to use this felt rope as the necklace, I made the ends a little thinner than the rest so that I could pull it through the felt balls with a needle.  It would be too thick where it folds over the eye of the needle otherwise.

First I used an awl to make a hole through the ball, then I made the hole bigger with a knitting needle, this allowed me to get the sewing needle through the ball.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Tapestry blog

I have just become aware of a new tapestry blog by Kristin Duckworth that looks interesting.  As the end of my course approaches, I find that I am having to think about what it is that I actually want to do next year.  It is seeing what other people are doing that keeps me interested, keeps me aware of what can be done.
I haven't done much tapestry at all this year, except for the small piece I did in France.
Here it is, still on the loom:  my finishing off leaves much to be desired, so I am not showing that one.
It is approximately 16cm x 10 cm.
The house the tapestry was based on.
My en plein air weaving spot.

I am currently studying Experimental Textiles and am focusing more on machine free motion embroidery and the possibility of designing an art quilt.
I need to decide what direction I want to go although I suppose it isn't necessary to be exclusive about one technique or another. However, to do a thing well, it is necessary to devote time and effort and not be distracted by trying to do too many things at once.
I enjoyed the tapestry weaving last year and want to do more but I am missing the focus provided by assignments.  Luckily, it looks like a group of us students and ex-students will be able to meet on a monthly basis to do weaving.  So now I had better get organised so that I have something to take with me.  More about this later, we won't be starting for about another 6 weeks.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pruning the trees

It is the time to prune the fruit trees - so I'm told, I'm so not a gardener.  We are having really strange weather at the moment, talk about Hot August Night.  Very strange weather for winter.

The olive tree has been covered in olives for ages and the windy night threw a lot on the ground today.  I swept them up in the hope that I might eventually use them for dyeing.  (I posted about using olives for dyeing earlier.) I haven't done any dyeing for ages but am gradually regaining enthusiasm. Maybe it is seeing all that fruit on the ground, going to waste. I am pretty sure I will get a reasonable result when I look at the stained driveway, maybe I should try contact dyeing rather than boiling the fruit.  I will have to give this some thought. The Indian minahs were not happy, they love eating the olives.

Anyway, this made me think of some of the trees we saw in Paris.  There were a lot of instances of trees shaped into rectangles.
Here are a few examples. The first two are near the Louvre, I think it was the Tuileries gardens.  We did so much that I am still trying to sort out what all my photos are.
Yes, it did rain but we didn't let it stop our enjoyment.

A very regulated area - not a 'wilderness'.
Obviously, a different day. Very summery.

View from the Pompidou Museum
Not all the trees were cropped, this is a view from near the top of the Pompidou Museum.
Other people take photos of the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame, I did too.  But it was the small things, such as the shaping of the trees, that I found just as interesting - but not as magnificent as the cathedral.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Not in London

I have been home for nearly a month now and am, eventually, settling back in.  I went to the Craft and Quilt Fair in Melbourne on the weekend.
It is over now but you can still read about it here (I think).
I spent about 5 hours there on Friday and could easily have gone again on another day.
I attended a talk on making a quilt using one fabric, not a whole cloth quilt which depends on the quilting for its design but a quilt made of one patterned fabric cut to make patchwork-like designs.  It was very interesting. Margaret Kirkby, of Logan's Fabrics, was the presenter.
It seems to be necessary to know how to find the repeat in a fabric, measure it, cut the fabric out (in the correct layout) and then cut that into a square.
I was pleased that I knew how to do that - one of the benefits of having done the Studio Textiles and Design course at RMIT.
You then cut the fabric diagonally into quarters and put them together to make the pattern. It is obviously more complicated than this but that is the general gist of the talk.
Margaret showed us various examples to demonstrate how different fabrics can work, including a stripe or border fabric.  She also showed us some pieces that she had cut out before really thinking the process through, that had caused some problems.  She showed us how she had attempted to work it out and the various designs that had resulted.  It was a good talk in that she showed us the 'mistakes' she had made and how she had solved the problems.

Now all I have to do is find some fabric that I think is suitable (I have quite a large stash to look through), remember how to do it and get going - without making too many mistakes.  But, before that, I have to do my assignments for the courses I am doing, make a cot quilt and generally catch up with work.  Hmm, I'd better try to find my notes from the presentation and file them well.