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!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Crazies

December is always my yearly speed bump, or judder bar as we call them in New Zealand.  It comes up with a rush, makes you sit up and take notice, and can do some real damage if you aren't prepared.

It's that crazy month of school finishing for the year and all that entails.  Christmas parties and work functions.  We go away camping or in the boat (or both) over Christmas so there is preparation for that.  Christmas presents to make and organise, decorations to sort.  And then this year we added in settlement on our house sale and some illness to boot.  Both my husband and I have had the kind of colds that make you couch bound for three days and now my daughter has a sniffle but she's just grateful that she's stopped upchucking after a tummy bug.  

And if that wasn't enough to send sanity packing, it's that time of year when I start questioning my goals, my life.  Why does the end of the year make me wonder if I'm doing what I should be doing, if I'm achieving all I could achieve, if I'm a good and worthy person (just kidding on the last one....mostly).

I need to apologise to all those people who commented on my last couple of posts and who I haven't answered.  I'm using all the above as an excuse.  

This is day 94 from my 100 Days Project.  It's a little bit how I'm feeling at the moment.  

So what am I doing to help myself?  
Forgiving myself for things undone.  
Setting my timer and working on things for 10 mins at the time then setting the timer again for 3 mins to get up and walk and do a tiny bit of tidying up.  
Writing a schedule out for the week and to-do lists and paying close attention to my calendar.
Doing kind things for myself.
Doing a round of 'what we are grateful for' at the dinner table.

What do you do when it all gets a little crazy?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sometimes you need simple...

I just read a quote on Deborah Boschert's blog today:
He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.—St. Francis

Deborah was talking about her workbook for developing your creative voice, called "Head, Heart and Hands".  I bought a digital downloadable copy for myself with the intention of starting work on it after my 100 days project is finished, I'll let you know how I find it.

Anyway.  The quote made me think about the sewing I did yesterday.  Sometimes you just need something to sew, something uncomplicated, something that just uses your hands, and maybe a bit of your head.  Something that will give satisfaction without any frustration.

At the recent Auckland Festival of Quilts, I bought a couple of half-metre cuts of Echino linen prints. I love Echino fabrics - a delightful mix of prints and colours.  I simply cut this piece in half, squared the pieces up and sewed them together into a tote bag.

For slightly more complexity and an increase in user-friendliness, I sewed it using enclosed seams.  Then I boxed out the bottom corners, added a simple outside pocket and lightly padded handles in a solid cotton fabric from my stash.  Done.  

Above is a snap of the bottom on the bag, inside out, so you can see the enclosed seams and the boxed corners.  

To sew enclosed seams, put the two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam round the three sides, clip the corners, turn inside out (RIGHT sides together) and press.  

Then sew another seam around the three sides, slightly larger than 1/4 inch and this will enclose your first seams.  

Now you can box your corners as in the photo above, add a double fold hem around the top edge, add your pocket and your handles.  

I enjoyed it so much, and loved the final product that I might just use the other piece of Echino in the same way.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Symposium Woes

The biennial national quilt symposium of New Zealand is the biggest deal in the quilting world down here and it's next happening in Christchurch October 2017.  They are calling themselves Creative Construction this time around - a nod to the immense rebuilding that has taken place in the city after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

I'm planning to go.  I've been to four other symposiums and I wouldn't miss it.  It's such a buzz for anyone who loves quilts!  Five intense days of classes, lectures, exhibitions, get togethers - just lots and lots of fun.

I'm making the trip with a friend of mine who's never been before.  I did that last time too, and enjoyed introducing someone to the delights of symposium.  We've just booked our accommodation, so even though it's almost a year away, we're getting prepared.  If you've never been before, I wrote a post with tips and advice for attending - you might like to check it out for a few ideas.

My prizewinning quilt 'Tui at Dawn'.  I REALLY enjoyed symposium that year!

But now, here's my problem - the registration book comes out soon and I've been looking at the tutors online, thinking about who I'd like to study with and what sort of classes I'd like to take.  And I'm blown away by the choice.  It seems like someone picked my brain for all the people I'd love to study with and invited them to attend.  It's going to be too hard to choose!

There are two five-day masterclasses this year.  One that particularly interests me is Lisa Call's 'Working in a Series'.  Lisa was my amazing SAQA mentor and I'd love to extend the learning I did under her guidance and I've always looked at this class thinking I'd like to do it.  But that's five whole days, and one of my own tips is to leave a day or two to see the exhibitions, rest and catch up with friends.  Arrghh!

My friend Shirley catching up at the Symposium Dinner.  Shirley is one of the most wonderful supportive quilters I know.

Then there are the international tutors who I might never get another chance to study with:
Jane Dunnewold - yes, I said JANE DUNNEWOLD, the queen of complex cloth is coming!
Luke Haynes - who I follow on Instagram and am intrigued by his work in series;
Jacquie Gering, whose walking foot quilting class on Craftsy really changed the way I use a walking foot;
Lyric Kinard, whose book 'Art + Quilt' was one of the first art quilting books I ever read;
Charlotte Yde - her work is just stunning, and thoughtful and intriguing;
Sherri Lyn Wood, I love her book (that I reviewed recently) and the thoughts behind her process.

And that's just the international tutors that interest me (there's more too) - there's exciting Australian (funny that they don't count as international, but I get the distinction!) and New Zealand tutors too.

It's too much!  How am I ever going to decide?

So tell me, are you going to symposium next year?  What tutors are you interested in?  And how are you going to decide what classes to take?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My New Kettle (and Studio)

Following on from my last post, when I heard the news that I no longer had a studio, I wallowed for a little while, then I put the problem out to the universe.  I asked friends and family for ideas and help, and the discussions that followed pushed me to think about what I really would like in a studio if I could have anything I wanted.

The list was long!  It included: water, power, space, light, storage and all the other things artists usually want.  But it also included security of tenure.  I wanted to be somewhere that I wasn't at the whim of other people's decisions.

I had some amazing offers and I want to thank those people, it was humbling to know people wanted me in their spaces, but my husband and I came up with an alternative solution that really ticks our boxes.

A nice sunny spot that's all mine! The curtains are up because the carpets were being cleaned.

We own a rental property a couple of minutes drive from our boat and it has a small flat downstairs.  The woman who had been renting it bought a house so she was moving out.  Then we sold our old house where we lived before we moved onto the boat (yay!).  We stored our furniture in a shed there when we moved aboard - now we would have to rent a storage unit for it.  And our rental property needs some serious maintenance work to the gardens.

So the plan came together like this:  We would take the bottom flat for ourselves, using our stored belongings to furnish it.  It would be my studio, our storage facility, our landside base if we ever wanted to get off the boat (storms, pulling the boat out of the water for anti-fouling etc) and we could also put wwoofers or Helpxer's in to help with the gardens and work on the boat - it always needs sanding and painting in one spot or another!  The best thing about the place is that we own it, nobody can kick me out and I can make as much creative chaos as I like!

There's a little bedroom, bathroom and laundry down the hall.

I'm getting excited about it now.  I wasn't, purely because I've spent several weekends shifting out of the studio and our furniture out of the shed, and the last thing I wanted to do was to shift it all back in again!  But I've taken a week off while I wait to get the carpets professionally cleaned and now I'm rearing to go again.

And I bought a new jug....

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Opua Arts Studio and Gallery Last Days

About a year and a half ago I became an art gallery owner.  It wasn't something I'd ever wanted to be, but it was a way for me to get a studio space close to my home (boat) and form closer connections to the local art community, so I took the opportunity and jumped in wholeheartedly.

The view from upstairs in my studio.
I had the use of a commercial office space while it had no tenant, but now, I'm very sad to report, my landlords have found a permanent commercial tenant.  That means that Opua Arts is no longer as of 31 October 2016.  The landlords have been great, and they wrote me the nicest notice of termination that I've ever received.

I considered making a little voodoo doll of the new tenant when I first received the news.  The thought of using the doll as a pincushion was very appealing!  And the worry about where I would work was a bit overwhelming.  But in truth, I've been expecting the news ever since I moved in.  It's a gorgeous space and Opua is an up and coming area with a new Marina expansion in progress and a general upturn of the Northland economy.

So then I got to accepting the idea.  And do you know what really made me accept it?  My electric jug died.  Isn't it weird how a little thing like that can change your perception?  My jug (or kettle if you like) was given to me when I moved into the studio and I realised I'd need to make cups of tea.  Mathea, a fellow textile artist, gave me her spare one from when she had a studio.

It started playing up right around the time I got the news.  I'd switch it on and it wouldn't go.  I'd jiggle the connections and it would come right.  It got worse and worse and it got me realising how maybe the jug was done.  And that got me thinking about how maybe I was done.  Maybe this was a sign that all good things come to an end and it was time for something new.

I've had fun in the studio and gallery.  I've enjoyed curating exhibitions.  I've met wonderful people at my weekly stitch and bitch sessions.  And I've learnt so, so much.  But it's time to move on.  Now that I'm over the disappointment, I'm really looking forward to having a break from the gallery work and being able to concentrate solely on my artwork.

Memories of Flight by Charlotte Scott
And I've found a new studio space too!  More on that in my next post.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Thoughts on Teaching

Last week I finished running a class making my Aotearoa Tote bag.  I ran the class over two weeks, with two sessions of 3 and a half hours.  My participants were members of my local guild, so we went out for lunch afterwards - a really nice way to end an intense sewing session!

This is my sample bag that I worked on during class to demonstrate.
Teaching is such a great reminder of how differently our individual brains work.  My class utilises a positive/negative appliqué technique.  It generates two usable appliqués from the one cut.  It sounds simple written down, but when you have to explain it, and the students are trying to figure out colour placements as well, it can get a bit mind bending.  And for some more than others.

These are Jane's bag panels.  Love her colours.
Our brains are just wired so uniquely and it's endlessly fascinating.  My husband can see spatial relationships in a room in a way I just can't, but colour and pattern are just not his forte.  Some experienced quilters need time and quite a few explanations to get the technique, and some beginners just intuitively understand.  I have to come up with different ways to explain it if someone doesn't understand the first way, so it's great for my brain as well.  I always learn something.

Beryl is giving circular quilting a go.  Another gorgeous colour scheme.
In this class, we all got there one way or another.  The participants assured me they had fun and learned something new.  What was particularly satisfying for me was that all of them tried quilting methods that put them out of their comfort zones.

Anne, trimming up her panel.  Anne tried FMQ for the first time!  So cool!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Interview with Annie White - Podcast

Annie with her Klimt Kiss quilt.
I first met Annie White at a workshop in Auckland.  It was run by Hollis Chatelain and Annie, her sister Mary, and I were attending to learn how to paint on fabric with thickened dyes.  I've met Annie again several times and watched her quilting star rise, so it was lovely to have a good chat with her about her unusual quilts, her creative practice and how she fits quilting into a busy life as a teacher librarian.

Annie professes to getting bored easily and wanting to try many different techniques.  Her white textured quilts (above is 'Korowai Ma' and you can read more about the making of it here) show a willingness to take risks and experiment with shape and form till she gets it right.

This photo shows the underside of the petals of 'Korowai Ma'.  You can see the multicoloured fabric and the cording that we talk about in the podcast.

You can see Annie's first white quilt called 'White on White' here, as a prizewinner at the Auckland Festival of Quilts 2013.

Annie has a blog that she shares with her sister, Mary, called Two Sewing Sisters.  She writes here about her processes and about her life, although she admits to finding it difficult to update regularly with her busy working schedule.  If you head on over, you will find more photographs of the quilts we talk about, such as 'Songlines', Annie's quilt that was selected for the travelling textile exhibition, 'A Matter of Time', curated by Brenda Gael Smith

Annie also had a work selected for the previous exhibition curated by Brenda, called 'Living Colour'. This work was titled 'Unfurling'.

Annie has also had work in the Dorothy Collard Challenge run by The Auckland Quilt Guild, and you can see her prize winning quilts here and here.

It was a pleasure to talk to Annie about her life here in New Zealand, her connections to Australia and how she translates her stories into fabric and thread.  I hope you enjoy listening.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Aotearoa Tote Bag Class

It's Spring time here and I feel like coming out of hibernation.  So to ramp things up a bit, I've decided to run a bag making class at Opua Arts Studio and Gallery.

My Aotearoa Tote is fairly straightforward if you have a bit of appliqué and quilting experience, but you'll learn a great positive/negative appliqué method and lots of tips on binding and quilting to make the whole thing come together smoothly.

Here's the ad I've written up:
Want to learn how to make your own Aotearoa Tote? I am running a class at Opua Arts so you can learn how. October 12th and 19th (Wednesday mornings), 9am till 12.30pm. 
Your own sewing machine and some basic sewing, quilting and appliqué skills required. $60 pp.
This is a project-based class where you will learn the ins and outs of positive/negative appliqué and come away with a funky New Zealand styled tote bag to show off!
This class includes machine quilting and binding, so plenty of tips and tricks are included to help you get great results with these skills.
Different applique designs will be available for the bag sides so you can customise your layout, and a full written pattern is included in the cost.
Students will need to provide their own fabrics and materials. A needs list will be provided on receipt of a deposit of $20.

What I like about this bag is how customisable it is.  Students get to pick their own mix and match of patterns.  And they can make them simple or trickier depending on how long they want to spend appliqueing. 

So, get in touch if you want to make your own eye-catching version of this bag.  I'm looking forward to seeing some different colour ways and pattern choices!

Friday, September 2, 2016

100 Days Project 10%

I wrote recently about starting a 100 Days Project.  Luckily there was a group and a website and someone had done all the thinking and all I had to do was sign up and join in.  We are now onto our tenth day, which means we are a 10% through the process.  Put another way, I've got 90% more to do!

So how am I feeling about it?  I wrote a little summary of how I've been feeling day to day.  I'm wondering how I'll feel at day 50.

Day One - nervous and excited, so much to live up to!
Day Two - well that was easy, too easy perhaps?
Day Three - this isn't so bad, but am I getting anywhere?
Day Four - Ick, what a stuff up, now I'm nervous again.
Day Five - I think I'm onto something.
Day Six - I really like this.
Day Seven - I really LOVE this.
Day Eight - I've got so many ideas, I'm bubbling over!
Day Nine - how do I work on all these ideas?!

The photo above was day five.  That was a spread in my sketchbook with a silhouette cut from the edge of one page so it appeared on two page spreads.  It's the day that I felt I had a little breakthrough.

And today is Day Ten.  Today I'm wondering how I can spread out my ideas a little.  Can I work on the same face or quilt two days in a row?  Will I be cheating if I do that?  I've got so many ideas but some I want to work on more deeply than others.

Above is the spread of all my days so far.  Day four was a scary one, I felt like hiding it, but that wouldn't contribute to my process, so there it is in all its glory!

I'll share more in another while, but in the meantime if you want to follow my progress, this is the link to my project:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yellow Challenge Entry Finished!

The Aotearoa Quilters colour challenge this year was Yellow.  I found the colour harder to work with than other colours have been in the past - and when you look at the yellow pile in my fabric stash, it's obvious that it's not my favourite colour!

I had lots of ideas, but none that really grabbed me until I was hanging out this piece of fabric that my daughter (aged 9) dyed.  I saw fire and flames and immediately thought of creating a phoenix.

I drew out a bird, using photographs of falcons as inspiration, and then used freezer paper to cut corresponding pieces of hand dyed silk organza with mistyfuse on the back.

It's easy to see my pattern under white fabric and the white as a base made the colours of the phoenix really glow.  Once all the pieces were in place I could iron them to hold them there before cutting very carefully around the edge.  You can see where I had a little more to cut in the photo below.

I use a brown paper frame to crop my design.  It's brown because that's the colour of the large roll of paper I have - white might be better, but you work with what you have, right?!

I added legs with solid cotton fabric, stitched the phoenix in place onto the background, then layered it and quilted it.  The binding was a bit of an experiment.  One layer of fabric, raw edge and two stitching lines, one of them using a heavy, hand dyed thread in the bobbin.  I think I like it.

'Pray' 12" x 12" by Charlotte Scott
I called my quilt Pray because of the references to resurrection that a phoenix has, and I liked the connotations of being prey of that fierce looking bird.  

The closing date for entries is tomorrow.  I got mine sent off at the beginning of the week so it should get there in time.  The quilts will be initially exhibited at the Orchid Show in Auckland in September and then will be a travelling exhibition after that.  All quilts are for sale at $125NZD.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stitch and Bitch

This is happening tonight.  Have you considered starting something like this in your own community?  It's worth it - friendships form, collaborations evolve, inspiration abounds, laughter erupts, stimulating and sometimes lively discussion happens.  It's one of the best things I've ever organised.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

100 Days Project

A creative practice project is something creative done regularly with a certain intent- a journal quilt every month, a zentangle per day, you've probably seen or read examples of them as they seem pretty popular around the blogosphere in recent years.
"Show up, show up, show up and after a while the muse shows up, too."   
-  Isabel Allende, Author. 
I've thought about creative practice projects before.  Like way back in May 2015.  And I guess I have been doing one in a loose way with my little colour compositions, but that particular project doesn't have accountability, or the support of being part of a bigger group.

An artist friend introduced me to the 100 Days Project recently.  She has participated before and found that it was enriching, challenging, frustrating, confronting and most of all, worthwhile.  (Find her work here).  The 100 Days Project in New Zealand started in 2011 and has been running annually since.  Except for last year - I don't know what happened there.  There is a website where you sign up, create a profile, and then when the project starts, you record your efforts there every day.
"The project gives anyone (young & old, artist and non-artist) a framework and the permission to be creative. It challenges you to dig deep into your creative reserves, to rely on your readiness to work in order to achieve creative breakthrough."   
- 100 Day Project, NZ. 
I signed up yesterday.  The project starts on August 24th and you have until the 20th to join up.  I'm nervous and excited because I decided to do something that will challenge me and, hopefully, enrich my textile art in a new way.

I've called my project 'Facing Up' and here's how I described it:

"I'm a textile artist, afraid of faces. So here comes 100 faces, in textiles or not, with the intent of 'facing' my fear."

This is a detail from a quilt about Ranginui and Papatuanuku (sky father and earth mother).  I think it's the only time I've included faces in a quilt.

The great thing about this is that my stitch and bitch group that I run through the studio and gallery is taking part too.  Not all of us, but at least four others.  When it gets hard and when we get stuck, we'll have someone to commiserate with.  When we feel the exhilaration of breakthrough and satisfaction of completion, we'll have someone to celebrate with.

And at the end of it all, I happen to own a gallery where we can have a 100 Days Project exhibition!

If you did a hundred days project, what would it be?

If you want to follow along with me, I'll be posting to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag of #100DaysOfFaces and I'll probably post here in a digest form with several days all at once, along with my thoughts about the process.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fish. Mullet to be precise.

I took this photo of mullet swimming near the wharf back in April.  How could I not try and make a quilt from it?

I also knew I had the perfect piece of hand dyed silk organza to work with.

Behind the organza is hand dyed muslin (not quilters muslin, but a very loose woven cotton that might be called cheesecloth in other countries, but I've always called it muslin), and then a white cotton quilting weight fabric as a base.

The freezer paper fish are templates that I use to cut out fish from cotton or organza fabrics.  Then I can place them in the layers to give the feeling of depth and fuse them in place with mistyfuse.

This silk organza fish is on top, but the transparency of the silk can be deceiving, just like water.

And then I've added borders of these two hand dyed cottons.  I wanted a link to the industrialness of the wharf that surrounds us, while showing a glimpse of the secret animal lives going on just under the surface.

And now to quilt it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The End of a Chapter (we're selling our house)

I started this blog waaaaay back in 2009 and my very second post was about moving out onto our piece of land.  We had purchased a 10 acre (4.4) hectare block with dreams about building a house on it, having a garden, orchard, animals - an enviable lifestyle.

We had built a shed for a tractor and other farm equipment, and eventually we decided to wall the shed in and live in it before we built our house.

Well, we never did build our house.  We liked the shed house so much we made it bigger and better and then built another shed right next to it, then a verandah, then a deck and then another deck.  Oh and we added a studio and fancy laundry (with the best stainless steel bench for painting and dyeing ever!!).

We raised calves, we had chickens.

I bred rabbits and ducks.

There were some sheep for a while and consequently, really cute lambs.  The vege garden went through stages of awesomeness and neglectedness.  We planted about a billion trees.  The kids grew.

And then we decided to move onto a boat!  A bit of a radical lifestyle change but right for us at the time.

Well, we've now lived aboard for almost two years.  Originally I said I'd give it a year to see if I liked it.  I do, and so we are staying put.  Now that we've decided that, we've also decided to sell our piece of land.  We want to close that chapter, free ourselves up a bit financially, and consolidate our lives here on the boat.

There are so many things I'll miss.  The beautiful views, the woodburner, my studio and laundry bench, free-range eggs.  But there are things that I won't miss - the long drive to get the kids to school, battling the weeds, mud in winter, escapee animals.

It feels like the right thing to do.

So, um, if anyone wants to buy a lifestyle block in central Bay of Islands, New Zealand, drop me an email, I can hook you up!