This blog is a bit of a ramble through my life. There's a lot about quilting and textile arts, a sprinkle of my family life and some of my thoughts and ponderings. We currently live aboard an old wooden 1945 Navy boat, called MV Cerego, so you'll find me writing about that too. Welcome aboard!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Podcast - Convo with Mathea Daunheimer

Hi all.  I recently recorded a conversation with my good friend, textile artist Mathea Daunheimer.  We chatted about working in a series, combining new techniques with old and staying true to your artist voice.  We also talked about entering shows and gave our top tips for entering quilt shows.

Mathea was busy painting a quilt while we talked.  She has been working on a series of dragons.  (I was very busy having a cup of tea.)



Here's the 12 x 12 orange and blue colour challenge that was issued by the Kerikeri Quilters.  These are displayed on my gallery walls at the moment, but were originally part of the Kerikeri Quilters exhibition in January.  You can see Mathea's dragon quilt on the top left of the six on the separate wall.


This is Mathea's current 'Mummy Without Coffee' quilt that is in progress.  I shamelessly stole a picture from Mathea's Facebook page - which you can find here.

You can see great progress shots of her other dragon quilts at her blog, which you'll find here.

I hope you enjoy listening in and if you have any questions for us, please leave them below in the comments and we'll get back to you.



Download this episode (right click and save)


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stich and Bitch

One of the most worthwhile things that I feel I've done with the studio and gallery (have a look at my Facebook page here if you want to know more about Opua Arts) is to host a weekly stitch and bitch session.

I just got a tweet from a participant that said, "It's a very special thing you do there on a Tuesday night."  Which made me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Because that's exactly how I feel about it too.


Every Tuesday from 7pm till 9pm we gather in the upstairs space of my studio and gallery and sit and stitch and sketch and knit and embroider and sew and quilt and laugh and talk and pick each other's brains.  There is a regular bunch of women who attend and then there are less regulars and then there are the once-off visitors.  And I advertise it for any creative work, not just stitching.  It makes for wonderful, varied and interesting evenings.

A lot of the women I had never met prior to these sessions but we share a love of hand work and being creative.  That forms a common bond before we even start talking.  And then the socialising effects of tea and biscuits kick in...


There is a little community forming and connections being made and I take a secret pride that they are happening in part because of me.  Yay!  I wanted to give something back to the community, and whilst that outwardly doesn't seem to be a huge thing (no big free children's education programs or public art donations here) I feel that friendships and support networks are being formed and that is no small thing either.  It really warms my heart and makes me smile to see these women who didn't know each other a couple of months ago greet each other with broad smiles and sit down for a good old chat.

Our last Tuesday night was a funny one, with lots of jokes and laughs.  The one before that got a bit deep and meaningful.  Some have been quieter, some smaller, some bigger, some with visitors who could barely speak English, and some with just a couple of us so we could have real heart to heart conversations.


I'm also loving the inspiration I get.  It's like my brain creativity sparks up a couple of notches just by being in proximity to other creatives.  I love my quiet, isolated working times, but I think a group of creatives watching each other work fires creative synapsis is a way isolated working doesn’t.

So if you are local and reading this, come along and join in.  If you aren't so local, are you in some form of group like this, or have you tried forming a social creative group of your own?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to finish the edges of mini textile art

I've been making some teeny little wall hangings.  And by teeny, I mean a few inches across.


Finishing the edges of these little artworks is always a bit tricky.  I use a heavy weight vilene in them to stabilise and stiffen them so they don't really lend themselves to a traditional binding, and they are too small for that anyway.

I have used a close zig-zag stitch along the edges but that takes a lot of thread and can gobble the corners if you aren't careful.  And I have messy backs from my embroidery that I'd like to cover too.


Then my talented friend Shirley let me in on how she finishes her bookmarks that she makes.

First, you iron a fusible web like vlisofix, mistyfuse or steam-a-seam onto some coordinating fabric.  Then you trim a piece of that fabric to about a quarter of an inch bigger than your little piece of art.


To form a hanging loop so you can display your artwork, use a piece of embroidery thread and take a large loose stitch through the backing fabric, fastening it with knots on the wrong side.




Tack down the fused fabric on the back of your artwork then trim the corners like in the photo.  Fold the edges of the fused fabric tightly over to the front of the work and fuse them down.  Fuse the back securely.


Stitch along the folded edges to secure.  You can use a contrasting or matching thread, a decorative stitch or plain machine stitch, or you can do what I did and use an embroidery thread in the bobbin (I'm using my hand-dyed silk/cotton blend) and work from the back to make it a feature.




Make sure you remember to sign and label your work, then hang it on the wall to enjoy.  These three are now keeping my hand-dyed threads company in my studio and gallery.



The middle one (Tree Hug #2) is 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and the other two (Tree Hug #1 and #3) are 3 inches by 3 1/2 inches.  They are for sale at $12 NZD each or $30 for the set.  Email me if you are interested!

Edit:  These are now sold, thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Last night there was a possum on our boat

Yes, possums are tree-dwelling marsupials who eat vegetation and fruit.  So what was it doing on our boat?  Who knows?  Maybe it wanted to go sailing!

It arrived dry, so I believe it walked down the gangplank.  And it left wet, very wet.  Possums can swim apparently.

There are no action photos to accompany this post.  After all, who wants to see pictures of my husband in his night attire (it's too hot to wear pj's at the moment...) chasing a stinky possum round the back deck with the scoop net he uses for fish?!

He didn't get it in the net but he did scare it overboard.  And here's the funny part.  It swam to our port side jetty, climbed the poles, ran along the jetty to the back deck of the Store.  I thought we were in the clear then because it can get from there back onto dry land.  But no, the stupid thing turned the corner and ran back down our starboard jetty and jumped onto the neighbours boat!

We woke them up (their hatches were open so we thought it was best they didn't meet a possum face to face in bed) and the first thing our neighbour asked - in his very English accent - "Am I dreaming?!"  The next thing he said was, "Where's my camera?"

The possum hightailed it up the sail on the roller furler.  It kept going higher and higher and even unrolling the sail didn't dislodge it.  It made it to the top of the mast (which must be a good 15 metres or 50 feet) and sat there.  Probably changing it's mind about the wisdom of a life at sea.

We all gave up at that point.  Closed all our doors and hatches and went back to bed.  This morning it's gone.  And yes, we checked the anchor chain locker ;-)


Here's a photo of possums my sister took in Australia, where they are a native species and protected.  They may look cute, but in New Zealand, where they were introduced for hunting for fur, they are considered noxious pests which destroy our forests and eat native birds eggs.