My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Interview with Melanie Martin, Best of Show winner, Manawatu Quilt Symposium 2015

Melanie Martin won Best of Show at the Manawatu Quilt Symposium 2015.  She was absolutely gobsmacked and after the awards ceremony I came across her sitting there stunned with her friends happily congratulating her.  I took the opportunity to ask Melanie for an interview, and while she was too overwhelmed to answer, her friends kindly agreed on her behalf!

Is is Art? Best of Show, Manawatu Quilt Symposium 2015, by Melanie Martin
Melanie discusses what this quilt is about and what it means to her.  We chat about her journey into quilting, her 'year of challenges' and where to from here.

We talk about another of her quilts, and you can see the Aotearoa Quilters Growth Challenge gallery here.  Melanie's quilt is called 'Under Construction'.

I can't find the exact Michael James quote that I talked about, but here's another good one from him that fits in really well with what Melanie and I talked about:  

Quiltmaking has historically been an art of conformity. I think it’s high time that we relegate that fact to quilt history, and move this art form fully into the 21st century where it should take its place alongside other exploratory and creative media.”

Thanks to Melanie for her time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tips and advice for attending a New Zealand Quilt Symposium

So I'm back from the wonderful world that is Quilt Symposium, New Zealand style.  Five days of total quilt immersion, if you choose it that way.  This is my fourth symposium and I'm getting better at organising my time to get the most out of the week.

My first attendance saw me squeeze in a class everyday, lots of lunchtime and evening lectures, the opening, the finale - just about everything that was available.  Unfortunately, I discovered this leaves little time for viewing the exhibitions, sightseeing or shopping the merchants mall.

All the tutors being introduced on Opening Night.  What a selection!
This year I had originally planned to stick to a three day class and only a couple of lectures.  However I had a chance to enrol in a special 'masterclass' of four days with Sue Benner, and I took the opportunity.  So I chose only two lunchtime lectures, and I thought I would still have plenty of time for everything else, but even so I only just squeezed in the half dozen exhibitions, the meetings of various groups, attending a floor talk, the various social functions, a few interviews for the podcast and (of course) a bit of shopping.

That's me joining in Brenda Gael Smith's floor talk about the Living Colour! exhibition.  Thanks to Brenda for inviting me and for the picture.
I'm not complaining.  Symposium is like one huge adrenaline rush for the dedicated quilter - no matter what genre of quilts interests you.  So many awesome people to talk to, stimulating lectures, challenging and fun classes, inspiring exhibitions - but five days is enough.

Attending four symposiums doesn't quite make me an expert (they've been running in NZ since 1984, so I'm sure there are people who have attended plenty more) but it has given me some insight, and so I thought I'd write down some of my 'top tips'.  At the very least, I can use them to remind myself before I attend the next one in Christchurch, October 2017.

The raffle quilt, a group quilt, quilted by Paula Shailer.  Unfortunately I didn't win it!

  • Register early.  If you think you may like to attend the next one, go ahead and register now.  The earlier you register, the lower your registration number and the more likely you are to get your choice of classes.  And attending a class that you really wanted to makes the whole thing more fun.
  • Plan carefully and leave a day or two free in your schedule.  If you completely fill up your time with classes there is no time to see exhibitions, go shopping or even just wiggle room to have an afternoon hiding in your room if you get overwhelmed.  And the more classes you take, the more and varied your luggage will be.  Think about whether you're a night owl and will enjoy evening lectures or whether you need those evenings to recover and stick to lunchtime lectures.
  • Write down your schedule and use those blank spaces from your planning to pencil in the things you want to see and do so that you don't miss out.
  • Go for wheels.  Find yourself some sort of wheeled trolley or suitcase to transport your class needs.  Your arms and shoulders will thank you.
  • Be prepared.  Comfy shoes, band aids, headache tablets, water bottle, ear plugs and glasses.  Five days is a long time and you'll want to be in good shape to make the most of it.
  • Everything is better with a friend.  If you can find a friend to go with you then do it and enjoy the symposium together.  If not - exercise your social skills.  Introduce yourself to people, get talking to your neighbour in the coffee queue, make new contacts because the chances are you'll see them again and again.  I got talking to a group at the exhibition at my second symposium.  They realised I was there on my own so they sort of adopted me .  I went to lunch with them once and now I spend time with them at every symposium.  New friends!
    Silly selfie with Lynda, one of the group who has 'adopted' me.

  • Accommodation.  Book it early and go for close proximity.  Use google maps or something similar to figure distance.  And consider what facilities you really need.  You won't be spending hours in your room so it doesn't need to be luxurious.  But you will probably be too busy and/or pooped to want to go out and eat every night - so some basic cooking facilities are handy.
  • Consider being a volunteer.  The whole thing is run by volunteers who have put hours and hours into making it a success.  So be kind to the organisers, and consider lightening their load by offering to help as a class angel, an exhibition white glove lady or any other position they are asking for help with.  It's another opportunity to meet people and learn something new.
  • Above all else, enjoy yourself!  You're there to have fun!

I'm still buzzing with all the ideas and inspiration I gained from attending symposium.  If you've never been, you don't know what you're missing, so go ahead and register for Christchurch!  And I hope some of these tips will help you get the most out of your experience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Episode 16 Hand Dyes and Holidays

It's a relatively short episode and I'm all by myself for this one.  Basically I'm practicing my podcasting voice in preparation for Symposium (I'm leaving tomorrow!!!!).  I'm hoping to squeeze in some interviews while I'm down there, but it's busy, busy, busy for everyone.

You'll get to hear a summary of my summer holidays with camping and boating and lots of sunshine (see my previous blog post for pictures).  And I tell you all about my bucket loads of hand dyeing that I did.

Here's my useful or beautiful link for this episode:

Blendoku is a game for android or iOS mobile devices.  You use colours to fill in a grid of squares, some colours are given to start with.  It really increases your colour theory skills and knowledge of tints, tones and shades.  And it fills in time when you are in a waiting room and you forgot your hand stitching...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

We're all going on a.....

....summer holiday.  No more working for a week or two.

Christmas and New Year's in New Zealand is shut down time.  Schools break for their summer holidays and there are four days of public holidays so lots of businesses close their doors for a week or two as well.

We traditionally break out the tents and sleeping bags and go camping in an Uncle's paddock.  The extended family all come to stay and sometimes friends too.  At one stage this year we had 13 kids running round.

Now that our house is portable, we decided that our maiden voyage could be combined with our Christmas camping expedition.  We cruised up the river and anchored for a couple of nights before Christmas and then motored out into Manawaora Bay where we had organised to borrow a mooring in Jack's Bay.

Borrowing a mooring was the best thing ever.  It let us spend nights camping (it was a short dinghy ride up a tidal creek to get to our usual camping site) without worrying about Cerego dragging her anchor.

This is the little creek at high tide.  I learnt how to operate the dinghy so I could zip back to Cerego if I wanted to.  Living tied up to a dock meant I hadn't needed to use a dinghy yet and it hadn't even crossed my mind that I should learn.  The first day we were up the river, Hubby took his runabout sized boat to work, leaving me on Cerego with the dinghy.  Fat lot of good that was because I didn't know how to use it!  I had my freedom curtailed and I didn't like it one little bit.  I made sure I had my first lesson that afternoon, and actually, it's pretty simple.

The weather before Christmas was a bit grey and dull but it slowly got better and better until we were having the most beautiful days.  The temperature would get up around 27 degrees Celcius, hardly a cloud in the sky and the water temperatures went up too.

This is our sixth year camping in this spot.  The kids look forward to it so much.  There is so much for them to do and now they are getting older and older, they require less supervision and have an even greater range of mud bathing.

And horse riding.  That's my Uncle in Law leading the horse.  Marshall is a bit of a famous horse whisperer in the area and there are ten or so horses on his property.  It's very relaxing in the evenings watching the horses graze on the hill behind our tents.

This year was the year of the flounder.  The kids discovered they could find flounder in the creek during daylight (usually you go flounder spearing in the evening with lights) so they made or found flounder spears and went hunting and they were surprisingly successful!  And it's the funniest thing to see half a dozen kids crowded round a frying pan devouring a freshly cooked fish - gone in seconds and none left for the adults.

It's becoming a tradition to build one of the Aunties a birthday cake on her birthday.  I say 'build' because we pile up pre-made goodies like pavlovas, eclairs, fruit and we've even tipped out a whole container of ice-cream to use as a base.  That whole tray got eaten with none left for seconds - our annual sugar fix!

Whipped cream shenanigans!

If we needed respite (from noise, kids and hard mattresses) we would spend a night on the boat.  The incredible peace and beauty when we would sit up on the top deck in the evenings was totally soul restoring.

And the top deck was also the perfect place to jump from when swimming!

The water was warm and clear.  

And everyone swam.

Now we are back home safe and sound and restored.  

I am preparing for my next adventure which is a week away at the Manawatu Quilt Symposium.  I have a four day class with Texan quilt artist, Sue Benner and I'm totally excited.  I intend to use mostly my own hand dyed fabrics and the requirements list says to bring 40-60 different fabrics.  I needed to restock my hand-dyes so I used my lazy days in the paddock to dye about 25 yards of fabric all in fat quarter sized pieces.

So hopefully I'll be back to a more frequent style of blogging, and I'm hoping I'll manage to squeeze in some interviews at Symposium for my podcast - watch this space!