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, January 15, 2019

Not just needle and thread.

I haven't been entirely idle while waiting for the chance to get my sewing machines.  For one, since my Hubby is now semi-retired, I've taken the opportunity to up the amount of shifts I do at work when they are available.  I've also tried out my hand at a bit of woodwork.

Powertools scare me, so I always tend to hand off those types of jobs to my Hubby.  But really, I should just put my big girl panties on and learn to use them safely and then practice to increase my confidence.  It's just like learning to use a rotary cutter!

So I wanted a box.  My son is having a bit of fun playing round with whittling interesting sticks and doing a bit of metal working.  The trouble is, he's doing it in the same space that I dye fabric, and like all kids, he tends to spread out and take over.  I wanted a box so I could pile some of his stuff in and do a bit of space reclaiming.

I could have gone and bought a plastic crate, but I'm so over plastic.  And we happen to have a supply of rustic recycled planks, so I thought, "Why not?"

Hubby gave me some tips and helped me learn the powertools, but I figured most of the construction out for myself.

And here's the finished product!

It was a bit like patchwork.  Square up, measure, cut and fit together.  It's just using wood instead of fabric and nails instead of stitch.  I didn't bother sanding the paint off as it was just a practice run, but also because I really like that recycled look.

I got to use it the same day I made it.  We had a couple of people over for dinner and I used it to take my cutlery, napkins and condiments out to the deck where we were dining.  You can just see it gracing the table with the hydrangeas in it behind me in the photo below.  Fun!  

Problem is, I think I like it a bit much to fill it with my son's bits and pieces.  I might have to make another...

PS The ceramic vase (that my husband loves using as his 'man-size' tea cup) that compliments the box so well was made by my talented friend, Jane Shaw.  You can find her on Instagram as @janeshawartist

Monday, January 14, 2019

Last you heard from me...

Last you heard from me I was procrastinating by unicorn.  The unicorn is still not finished, but I have a good excuse.  December saw us off to the South Island for three weeks camping.  We came back home for several days over Christmas and then went on our usual summer holiday camp - two weeks in an Uncle's paddock with all the extended family.

On the way to the South Island I dropped my two sewing machines off for servicing.  Today, finally, I'm picking them up.  I've got itchy fingers and am dying to see that unicorn finished!

So here's a few photographs of what we got up to in the South Island:

We took 'The Hippo', our trusty four wheel drive camper to get to those spots less common.

Here she is, unfolded in all her glory on the shores of Loch Katrine. 

One of the most stunning places we got to was up the head of the Godley river.  

Summer hadn't quite reached up there and there was plenty of snow to keep the temperatures down.

And because it was early in the season there was no fire ban so we got to enjoy cooking over flames.  

My son got to gut his first deer.  He wasn't too squeamish and the back steaks were delicious.

The Hippo even got us into Fiordland, which didn't disappoint with it's scenery. 

Nor with it's sandflies!  So we only stayed one night before we scrammed out of there as fast as we could.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Procrastination by Unicorn

I have upcoming deadlines.  But none of them are absolute.  I haven't got a contract, I haven't promised anything to anyone, they are just things I 'should do', or perhaps 'could do' is more accurate.

For example, Aotearoa Quilter's Great NZ Quilt Show is coming up in March next year (mark your calendars - it's on 8th to the 10th March, in Rotorua, which is a great place to visit.)  The deadline for submitting a quilt is 14th February 2018.  Ages away, right?!  Well, not so, when I factor in upcoming travel, Christmas, camping and work.  I really only have a few weeks to work on something new, and I have a couple of other exhibitions I'd like to enter too, and they have similar deadlines.

So am I knuckling down and getting to it?  Nope.  I'm playing!

If you didn't already know, I sell a dragon applique pattern on Etsy.  I've had it there for years (I made the dragon quilt for my son's sixth birthday and he's now 14) and it ticks away nicely, giving me a little passive income for the original work I put in to drawing and writing it up.

Now that Dear Hubby is semi-retired, I'm looking for ways to boost our income a bit, without me having to drastically up my midwifery work.  And I've always wanted to make a unicorn....

But unicorns aren't serious!  They're flighty, silly work that 'real artists' wouldn't do, right?!  Well, stuff it.  Real artists have gotta eat, and if I can make a buck or two from some fun, flighty, silly work, then it's still work in my mind.  And if can give someone joy by helping them make a unicorn for a grandkiddy or someone else special, then that's pretty satisfying too.

I started by drawing.  I looked at lots of images of horses and sketched parts from several that appealed, putting them all together into a pleasing image.  Then I added the flourishes like the horn and fluffy hooves and the glamorous 'blowing in the wind' mane.  It took several hours, on and off, to get it looking exactly how I wanted it.

Once the sketch was finalised, I tidied it up and used my photocopier to enlarge it to the size I wanted.  Then I traced each section, working out the order of what piece would go under or over it's neighbour (neigggghhhhbour....sorry, couldn't resist!)

Then it was fun with fabric time!  My first layout was pretty good.  I used a couple of my ombre/variegated hand-dyed fat quarters, which worked really well.  But once I looked at him in a photograph, I realised I wanted more contrast in the mane.  Luckily I hadn't ironed anything down (I'm doing fusible raw-edge applique) and I was able to swap out a couple of mane sections for a lighter colour.  Much better.

Then I worked on the background.  He needed a place to stand on, and who doesn't look dramatic silhouetted against the full moon?

Next I'll be stitching him down and quilting, and then finishing him off as a wall hanging.  And lastly I'll write him up as a pattern and get him all loaded up ready for sale....but maybe not before I procrastinate by unicorn a little more.  After all, we need to know what he'd look like in a different colour way!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Credit Where Credit is Due

Dragon Applique Quilt made by Charlotte Scott.  Pattern availabe for purchase at AotearoaQuiltDesign on Etsy

Amongst seasoned quilters, it is the expected norm when showing photos of quilts from a show or exhibition, to also share the makers details, and designers and quilters as well if they are different from the maker.  When professional organisations, such as SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associated) call for photos for a catalogue, they also ask for the photographers name if it wasn't the artist.

But in the more casual arena of hobby quilters and the uninitiated non-quilting masses who visit quilt shows, it is quite common to see a whole slew of 'eye-candy' shared on social media, without the similtaneous sharing of makers and/or designers and quilters details.

Big can of worms.

As an artist, if I share my quilt in an exhibition, it's disappointing to then have it shared willy nilly across the world without people knowing who made it.  And yes, I say across the world, because with social media, we truly do have a global audience for anything we share.

But it's not just hurt feelings.  Many artists rely on teaching or lecturing or book sales to make a living.  If their work is being shared without credit, how will people know which quilters they want to ask to their guild to teach or what books they want to buy?  How can they dig deeper to find out more about an artist they admire, if they don't know who the artist is?

It's also contributing to copyright infringements.  If Jane shares a photo of a 'lovely quilt' that she saw at her local show, Mary sees it on Facebook and shares the post, Mary's friend Lily, who doesn't know Jane, sees it and shares it too.  Several shares down the road, perhaps to Instagram, then to Pinterest, Louise sees the 'lovely quilt' and decides she wants to make one too.  What she doesn't realise (because Jane never shared the details of the maker or designer) is that this is a quilt made from a commercial pattern that is offered for sale by a small-business designer.  Louise copies the design and makes her own 'lovely quilt'.  Louise would have preferred to buy a pattern (the hard work already done for her) but she didn't know who made it or designed it.  She puts the quilt in her local show.  The small-business designer misses out on a pattern sale, and when Louise's quilt is judged, the judge happens to know that this is a quilt from a pattern, which Louise has not credited and so Louise is penalised.

The great thing about all of this is that it's really easy to share details of the makers!  Digital cameras and phones are the perfect tool.  You can take a snap of the quilt, then immediately take a snap of the quilt label.  Share them both!  Even better, write the name of the maker etc in the caption of the quilt photo and then ALSO share the photo of the label.  Then no one has any excuses that they didn't know the maker's details.

Artists can protect themselves to some degree by adding a watermark across their photographs, but this will only protect those photos that they share themselves.  We need to rely on the community to also do the right thing.

But I think the show organisers need to help the community do the right thing too.  The last big show I went to did not have an photography policy advertised, or if it did, it was not obvious enough for me to have noticed.  It would be very easy to have a notice posted that says simply that photography is allowed, but that makers must be credited if photographs are shared in the public domain.

Quilts Inc, who run The International Quilt Festival in Houston, have clear photography rules in their brochure, which state:  "You must include an artist credit and note that the photos were taken at International Quilt Festival. This helps us protect the rights of quiltmakers."  That's a pretty straightforward statement that would be difficult to misinterpret, but it would also be helpful to have it prominently displayed at the entrance and in several places around the exhibitions. 

And back to the community, if we see people sharing photos of quilts without crediting the relevant artists, we need to gently educate them.  I belive that most of the uncredited sharing is due to basic ignorance of this issue, rather than disregard and malice, so be calm and pleasant in your education!

There are many more aspects to the discussion on sharing and copyright that I haven't covered, but I think this is the important tip of the iceberg.  With so many recent and upcoming quilt exhibitions, and the ever increasing reach and use of social media, it's an issue that needs more discussion.

Brenda Gael Smith, of Serendipity Patchwork and Quilting, has a much deeper knowledge of copyright than me and has kindly pointed me in the direction of a short article by Austin Kleon called 'Credit is Always Due' and also the relevant section of the NZ Copyright Act 1994 that deals with sharing work for the purposes of reporting current events, or for review.  Both are well worth a quick read.

So please, give credit when sharing other peoples work, encourage others to do the same, and don't share work if you don't know who made it.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

3rd and Final Lot of Auckland Festival of Quilts 2018 Photos

Robyn Croft's quilt is an excellent example of how effective a simple, repeating motif can be.  Can you see how she has two sections of blocks with warm backgrounds and two sections of cool backgrounds?  It looks very carefree, but I'm sure she spent hours carefully arranging and rearranging blocks on her design wall.

Another carefree looking quilt!  Made by Chris Behersing, I just loved this for it's unique fun factor!  The eclectic fabric choices and offbeat grid add to the jaunty, upbeat feel.

Another repeating block design quilt, this house quilt was made by Rosalie Lange using Marti Michel templates.  I've always wanted to make a house quilt.  I think it would be the perfect quilt to snuggle under watching a movie.  And the dark backgrounds appealed to me on this quilt, along with the mostly dark house walls that give the light coloured windows a warm, inviting aura.

There's a bit of a theme of repeating blocks in this post.  This Southwind design made by Donna Cumming to commemorate her friend has an interesting overlaid grid effect.  Donna has used silks and these and the saturated colours give a richness to the quilt.

I want to post an alternate question.  Do traditions only gain meaning by repetition - because that is how they became traditions in the first place?

Robyn Rognstad has used interesting fragments and a wide variety of fabrics but has managed to get them all to play nicely with each other in a thoughtful and harmonious way.

We can contrast that with this next quilt, also by Robyn.  It likewise combines fragments and varied fabrics but in a more complex and lively way, which creates a totally different feel to the quilt.

Jenny King uses a Jen Kingwell design to put together a very different looking quilt.  I'm always drawn to unique looking blocks and this one, combined with the masculine patterned fabrics and the particular blue and tan colour scheme, has a Japanese feel.  This quilt also had a completely different look when viewed from a distance (when we were having lunch in the cafe) compared to being viewed up close; very clever.

Another Jenny, and another unique looking quilt.  I love large applique, although you'd think from most of this post that my penchant was for repeating blocks!  I think this is a beautifully balanced design by Esther Aliu and Jenny's clever use of similarly toned background fabrics for the wall and the window give interest without overwhelm.

Black and white fabrics combined with brights can often make a harsh colour palette, but I think Kathleen Janes has managed to avoid that pitfall.  The use of heavily patterned black and whites so that they almost have a grey tone from a distance, and secondary colours, such as pink instead of red and a greeny yellow instead of a primary yellow, contributes to the success.

Well, that's about all the photos I have.  I haven't shared the Best in Show by Norma Slabbert, but I think it's been shared enough already.  Congratulations to all the prize winners and thank you to everyone who entered quilts.  Without quilts, there is no quilt show!

Thank you to all the organisers and the volunteers on the day.  Without the hours and hours of time you've put in, there would be no quilt show.

Thank you to the judges, it's hard work evaluating people's pride and joys, you don't get a huge recompense and you never please everyone.  The judged will never know the ins and outs and how much time you spent debating and comparing and trying to give every quilt a fair assessment.

Thank you to the vendors. You're all smiley and helpful and contribute to making the show a fun place to visit.

And a big thank you to the sponsors.  Without you I'm sure the show wouldn't happen, and I'm positive the prizes wouldn't be nearly so exciting!

At this point, the official photos of the winners are not up on the Auckland Guild's website, but you can see previous years winners, and I'm sure the 2018 photos will be up soon.

See you all next year!