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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And, just like that, I'm a Art Gallery owner..

Yes, you read that correctly.


This has never, ever been in my plans, but it is now, and I'm super excited and really working hard to make it work.

Here's a little background:  My husband and I have been casually looking for a studio space 'off-boat' for me.  I say casually, because this year was meant to be all about consolidation.  We didn't want to spend any money and I was pretty happy making do with a corner of the saloon.

But I take up a fair amount of room, so we have had our eye on a beautiful office just across from us on the Opua Wharf.  Problem is, it is a commercial space and the rent would be well unaffordable just for a studio.

The fence in front of the building surrounds a hole in the wharf looking straight down to the water.
About a week ago, my husband (bless his cotton socks), came up with a plan.  Why don't I have a working studio, open to the public, with half the space as a gallery selling local artist's work?  I can sell my work, my hand-dyed fabrics and possibly other small items like bags and table runners.  I can sell other artist's work on commission, and there is room upstairs for myself and other artists to run classes and community arts groups.  We envisage it becoming a thriving arts hub, supporting the local arts community and the community in general, and all the while providing me with a space to work and produce my own art.

My proposal to the landlord (a council owned company heavily invested in the community) was accepted.  Just like that I have the keys and I'm planning an opening night in two weeks.

Holy crap!

So I'm excited, yes, but I'm also just a teeny massive bit scared.  All of the sudden there are a million things to do.  I need to set up an accounting system, I need to make display plinths, I need to contact all the artists I know (and don't know), I need to make an inventory, I need to write gallery contracts, press releases and opening night invites.

So 'scuse me if you don't see too much of me in the next couple of weeks.  I'm busy learning how to run an art gallery.

PS - If you are a Northland based artist reading this, please email me (you'll find my email address under my profile) with your portfolio and we can talk!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wot Knots Bakers Dozen Exhbition

My good  friend, and fellow art quilter, Mathea Daunheimer, has an exhibition hanging at the moment.  She is part of a group called 'Wot Knots', and 13 of them have been working away on a 12" x 12" challenge over the last couple of years.

"A Bakers Dozen, 12 x 12 Challenge" opened at Reyburn House in Whangarei on the 4th of June.  It runs till the 28th so you still have a few days to see it.

I was lucky enough to attend the opening night and I was blown away by, not only the talent and imagination of these woman, but the commitment they each displayed in seeing this challenge through.

Every member of the group took a turn in picking a theme, with an overall theme of New Zealand.  Then every member had two months to make a 12" x 12" quilt depicting the chosen theme for that period.  The quilts are hung in their themed groups and make for an interesting exhibition.

Here are a few photographs from the opening night.

This last photo is of two of the exhibitors.  Sonya Prchal on the left and Mathea Daunheimer, hamming it up, on the right!  Both are very talented artists so I urge you to click on their names and go have a look at their work.

Edited to add: due to the popularity of this exhibition, the date has been extended till 12th July.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tea + Rust = Grey

I've used tannins to turn rust dyed fabric grey or black before.  But I wanted to know if I could control the effect more.  Turns out you can.

I also want to show you one way I use my own photos for quilts, even if the photos aren't perfect.

So, here's a photo of a white faced heron taking off.  Blurry and unclear.  But I can still use it.

First off I print it in greyscale in A4 size.  Then I take a thin black marker and outline the bird.  I refer to the photograph and if something isn't clear, I just fudge it.  Then I take this photo and enlarge it to the size I need.  My printer has a posterise function that automatically resizes an A4 sheet to A2, then I just tape the relevant prints together.

I use a light box (my mac screen makes a great light box!) or a window and trace this onto freezer paper.  An x-acto knife makes cutting out precise and easy.

So now you can paint, or stencil, or discharge or use this stencil however you like.

In this case, I ironed it to a previously rusted piece of fabric.  Then I applied wet tea leaves over the shape.

I didn't want the liquid from the leaves to 'wick' too far under the stencil so I wanted it to dry quickly.  To do this I placed paper towels over the top and ironed it on a hot setting.  Once it was pretty dry, I brushed off the tea leaves, peeled off the stencil and ironed it again.

I'm very pleased with the results!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Podcast - Interview with Kerry Glen from Tulis Textiles, Batik Specialist

This episode is an interview with Kerry Glen of Tulis Textiles, a web based quilt shop that specialises in batik fabrics, squedge rulers and now branching out into surface design supplies.  Kerry talks about her journey into quilting, and importing and selling batiks.  

This is a photo of one corner of Kerry's cutting room.  I confess that I took a few colours home with me...

We learn how batiks are made and also about some other Indonesian fabrics.  Below is a picture of one of Kerry's chops or caps, which is used to print a wax resist onto the fabric.  This is the surface of the chop dipped into the wax, the handle is behind the chop and you can't see it.

Here is a picture of the table runner that we talk about, with an unusual colour scheme inspired by a clay pot, and created using a 15 degree wedge ruler.  Kerry has a free pattern for this on her website, click here to see it.

Kerry has begun holding quilt retreats and we discuss the why and wherefores of getting together groups of like minded people.  It's really awesome that the New Zealand quilt market is growing to the extent that make these retreats viable.  I hope that Kerry keeps getting the numbers to continue these as they are an awesome way for quilters to get together with people who speak your language and learn something new.  Go and check out the details for her textile art retreat in August.

Kerry has also started stocking surface design supplies, check them out here, and check back often as the range is going to grow.  

I had a wonderful time talking to Kerry, and there is much more, so have a listen and enjoy!

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

SAQA Benefit Auction Quilt - Seeing Both Sides of the Story

Every year SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) holds a benefit auction.  They ask members to make a 12 x 12 inch quilt to donate.  These are then auctioned off to raise money for the association.  They raised over $55,000 last year!

My quilt for this year is a little different for me, it's the first time I've really tried to include a message.

There is an ongoing debate about the back sides of art quilts.  Artists who exhibit art quilts at quilt shows often feel that the back of the quilt isn't relevant and shouldn't be judged.  Other's feel that in view of the traditions that art quilts spring from, the back is an integral part and should be celebrated as another aspect to use to convey a message.  And still other comments I've heard are that painters never consider the back of their work, so why should we?

It goes round and round and round!

I'm not sure where I stand on the debate.  And hence my quilt: Seeing Both Sides of the Story.

The text on the front reads,"So, I guess you turn over paintings and look at the back of them too?"  Which is something I've heard as a reply to people saying the backs of art quilts are important.  You can say it with a sarcastic tone or not, up to you!

I began with white fabric and a fabric pen.

Then I used layers of hand painted and dyed silk organza.  I wanted a painterly feel with depth and translucency.

I worked up the text by quilting around the letters and using coloured pencil and colourless fabric paint to highlight them.

The outline of a woman's back was done using a heavy thread in the bobbin and free-motion quilting.  I used this motif for a couple of reasons - obviously the 'back' of the woman ties in with the statement of the 'back' of quilts.  I also wanted people to think about both sides of things, how one side can be hidden but perhaps be the more revealing.  I also wanted to reference fine art - nudes often appear in the traditional masters you see in museums.

The back of the quilt has a hand written mini essay.  It is hard to read in the photograph, but easier in real life.  This is what it says:

Textile is tactile; it begs to be touched and fondled, to engage that kinaesthetic sense. Yes, we hang textile art of the walls, but we also wrap ourselves in it. Should not the back be another aspect to engage with, to admire? Why do we insist on trying to make art like painters? We aren't painters, we are quilters, and we stitch though all three layers. So, let us celebrate a marvellous attribute of our medium and embrace THE BACK.

And this, for me, is the other side to the back side story.  I wanted this on the back so you would have to turn over the quilt (the action that the whole debate is about) to read it.

I bound the edge with a very skinny single fold binding, popped in an envelope, crossed my fingers and sent it winging towards the USA.  It arrived safe and sound and now appears on SAQA's auction pages, page 8.

There are many, many beautiful quilts up for auction.  There are also many videos of how individual artists created their art.  Go and have a look - you will inspired and amazed at the beautiful work.   And please share the link with others so that they can see the quilts too.

PS - I'd love to hear your thoughts about the back of art quilts, please leave me a comment.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Podcast - Being a Quilter's Kid

I thought I'd talk with my children to get an insight on what they thought about quilts, quilting and having a quilting obsessed Mum.  They were happy to oblige and there are interesting, funny and a few golden moments through our interview.

They both talk about their bed quilts I've made them.

You know the saying about tailor's children having no shoes?  Well, my kids have quilts, but they are both years old, very well loved and consequently getting tatty.  These old photos show me that at least my photo taking ability has improved, but it's also long overdue for me to make new quilts for them I think.  You'll hear Liv request a fairy princess with a pretty dress riding a unicorn pegasus.......sure, I'll knock that off by next weekend!

And here's a picture of the quilt we were sitting on.  I asked them how much they thought I should sell it for....I'm hoping you'll gasp in horror when you hear the figure they suggested!

I hope you enjoy listening.  Apologies if the sound fades in and out a little, I was chasing two kids and a cat round my bed....

Download this episode (right click and save)