28 February 2008

Flying foxes

Grey-headed flying foxes Pteropus poliocephalus are large bats, weighing up to 1 kilogram, with a wing span which may exceed one metre. They sleep during the day and feed on pollen, nectar and fruit at night. There is a large colony of these bats - over 11,000 - resident in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, and they are destroying many trees in the gardens.

During our tour on Monday, we saw what a disgusting mess the bats made and how much destruction they have caused, especially in the palm grove. In this photo, you can see a multitude of them hanging in a tree that has been shredded by their claws.

While we were in the gardens, we crossed paths with a group of young primary school children, whose tour guide advised them to 'keep your hats on and don't look up at the bats in case they poo on you'. Wise advice, considering the mess we saw below the trees!

Brenda and I proceeded from the gardens to the nearby Art Gallery of NSW. One of the first installations we saw was this:

Fruit Bats by Lin Onus. Coming straight after seeing the real bats, it made me laugh. If only the real bat droppings were as neat as the ones depicted here! We passed this piece several times on our journey through the gallery and it made me smile every time; so much so that I had to buy a postcard of it.

Of course, my main purpose in visiting the gallery was to feast on the paintings of John Olsen, my absolute fave. Many of his paintings are in the gallery's permanent collection and there were three on display. Of course I acted like a besotted groupie and ogled the paintings with fervour.

If you're in the neighbourhood before 30 March, pop in and see ArtExpress 08, an exhibition of art works created by final year high school students for their major Visual Arts works in 2007. There are some amazing pieces!

27 February 2008


Following on from yesterday's post, today's photos focus on lines.

The lines formed by clumping bamboo.

The strong vertical lines of the palms.

The glorious arching lines of the man-made fernery. Note the shapes of the city buildings in the background.

I know that some of these lines will show their shapes in future quilts.

26 February 2008

Colour bursts

Colour is all around us and we just need to open our eyes to be inspired. However, sometimes a special excursion will allow us to soak up images we wouldn't see in our day-to-day lives. Join me on Erica's and Brenda's excellent adventure!

Yesterday we met at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. We joined a free tour of the gardens, conducted by Eric, a volunteer guide. It was a small group, with people from as far away as Manchester in England, San Franciso in the USA and the Urals in Russia. After the one-and-a-half hour tour, Brenda and I headed off for our own walk along the various paths in the gardens, snapping photos as we went.

I love the shape of these leaves, and their gorgeous colours. Image these in a piece of hand-dyed cloth.

Red and yellow together? The shiny parts of this flower could have been made from plastic.

What can I say about this? The colours are simply stunning and the shapes are quite intriguing. Isn't the texture amazing?

I have way too many photos from the gardens to show in a single post. Our walking took up the morning and we spent the afternoon at the Art Gallery of NSW. More about that later. I'm still processing the sights and sounds of our excursion and I know they will result in some textile work!

24 February 2008

Full bloom

Summer's nearly over and the Stanhopea orchid is celebrating with these glorious blooms.

23 February 2008

Abstract shapes

Some of these ATCs are flying this week to New Zealand for a swap. It was fun playing with shapes cut from tiny leftover pieces of pink batik and fusing them to a hand-dyed fabric background. I need to make a couple more sets of ATCs for another swap, so think I might play with this idea some more.

21 February 2008

Once upon a time

I started painting the wall tiles and cupboards in my kitchen. To be exact, it was Easter 2006. Somehow, all the activities that make up my life got in the way, and I never finished the painting. After a while, I stopped noticing that one side of the kitchen was painted and the other half wasn't.

Today I took up the paintbrush and applied the undercoat on the tiles and benchtop. Once they have two coats of tile/laminate paint, they will shine with new life, and then I'll move on to the cupboards. Why am I covering them all? Here's the evidence. Don't you just love those door handles? (New ones have been patiently waiting in a bag for years.)

20 February 2008

February journal quilt (2)

My February journal quilt is a response to 13 February 2008, when the Prime Minister of Australia said sorry to the Stolen Generation. This is a very complex issue that had a great effect on many people and involves many layers of emotion and many interwoven stories.

For this reason, my quilt, Sorry, is made with multiple layers of fabric.
I chose the colours of the Aboriginal flag - yellow, red and black. The base cloth is hand-dyed yellow and red fabric. The next layer is painted fusible webbing, fused to the background and covered with a layer of chiffon. The final layer is a pattern made by rubbing gold paintstiks over a wooden block. The binding is black homespun that I stamped with blotches of gold paint. It is hand stitched to create more texture.
I stamped the word 'sorry' with black ink . If you look closely at the top and bottom, you will see black shapes representing women - the mothers who had their children taken from them. For these shapes, I was inspired by Brenda's experiments with paper cut-outs of people.

19 February 2008

Across the harbour to Manly

to see 'The New Quilt', an exhibition of contemporary quilts. Held every two years, the juried exhibition is held at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum and organised in conjunction with The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc.

There were some stunning pieces of work that were displayed well in a gallery situation. I particularly admired Dianne Firth's Cell Structure #7, Alison Muir's Think Pink, Beth and Trevor Reid's Elements, Alison Schwabe's Timetracks 4, Carolyn Sullivan's Signature XII and Rosie White's Invisible Landscapes: Domesticity.

'The New Quilt' catalogue is still a disappointment. Instead of a full page photograph of every quilt, as is done admirably by the West Australian Quilters' Association with their contemporary quilt exhibition, 'Stitched and Bound' every two years, 'The New Quilt' catalogue shows only a tiny detail shot of each quilt, with larger detail pictures of three quilts. None of the photos provide a real sense of the actual exhibit and certainly aren't sufficient for later reference.

One of the great pleasures of living in Sydney is the ferry trip across the harbour to Manly and back. Although it was an overcast day the ferry was full, mostly with tourists. To see our great city through their eyes is a reminder of how lucky we are.

18 February 2008


No pics today. I have finished stitching my February journal quilt, thanks to spending a sewing day with Nola. Just hand sewing, lunch and catching up - perfect for a quiet day.

Arrived home to hear confirmation of a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury to one of the Swans' key defenders. Oh no, not the ACL! So many AFL players tear their ACLs that I can diagnose the injury just by watching the way they fall over.

Ironic really, considering the season hasn't actually started yet.
Nick Malceski was injured in yesterday's first game of the pre season competition, which, naturally, the Swans lost. We always lose round one of the pre season - it's a bit of a club tradition that allows us to go see a practice match next weekend in Sydney. Yay to practice matches - let the teams that won in round one continue to play in the pre season comp. The rest of us will go to our local grounds (in our case that's the Olympic Stadium - not bad for a local) and get up close and personal with our fave players. Roll on Saturday.

17 February 2008

February journal quilt

My journal quilt for February will take longer to make because I will hand stitch it. This quilt needs to have an investment of time. It's all about how yesterday's time eventually becomes today's. Just for a teaser, here's a closeup of a small section of the quilt, before stitching (just pretend you can't see the basting stitches).

15 February 2008

January journal quilt

2008 will, hopefully, be a year of journal quilts. I give you January's - the season Summer. I wanted this to be a graphic design - nothing tizzy or complicated. Summer in Sydney is stripped-back; lazy and full of simple things but always hot.

14 February 2008


As part of my ongoing resorting of the sewing studio, I discovered I had kept way too many past bank statements and bills. Why did I have statements from 1989? I can only assume it was because I had the space, not because I actually needed them.

Oh, the joy of repetition! Yesterday afternoon, I spent a couple of pleasant hours with my shredding machine. Did you know that shredded bank statements make wonderful compost? Or that feeding hundreds of pages of paper through a shredding machine encourages meditation?

All the shredded papers were added to my compost bin and combined with the other contents. In a while, I'll take the resulting compost and add it to the garden to feed the soil that will grow more vegetables.

The cycle will become complete. That feels satisfying somehow.

13 February 2008

It's time to say sorry

From the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd:

"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

12 February 2008

Fun with selvedges

Today I tried something I have wanted to for ages. I cut a mass of selvedges - you know, the pretty parts with writing and little coloured spots - and stitched then to a piece of foundation fabric (I used quilters' muslin). They are easy to overlap - place the woven edge over the cut edge of the previous strip and stitch a line through all layers. This is the square after I stitched a variety of strips down.
Then I cut the square into four smaller squares. I placed a selvedge square with a plain fabric square, right sides together, and sewed around three edges. Turn them inside out, stuff with offcuts of batting and stitch the seam closed. Here they are - pretty little selvedge pin cushions. Aren't they fun?

Karen Griska has other ideas for selvedges on her website and good basic instructions for sewing them to foundations. She is publishing a book about this very topic later this year.

11 February 2008

Kick start

Sometimes ATCs are the perfect small objects to make when you don't have any idea what to sew. My subconscious is processing myriad ideas right now, but none of them are ready to be made yet.

In the meantime, I make simple ATCs. Furnishing fabric samples and ricrac braid combine in a cheerful combination.

10 February 2008

Australian Autumn

Actually it's still summer, but Australian Autumn was the theme for the Unique Stitching art quilt challenge. My quilt is 12 inches square and made with woven strips of chiffon in three shades, as well as strips of other fabrics. One of the requirements of the challenge was that the golden Angelina fibre had to be used. I fused it into a strip with some yarns. My quilt is stamped and hand stitched.

I used chiffon to evoke misty autumn mornings in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and encapsulated five fabric fallen leaves. The quilt is not actually as dirty-looking as the photo!

09 February 2008

What a difference a day makes

Today is the first day of my new direction. Okay, that fact that I haven't defined this new direction is not important. Leaving my full time job yesterday is the first step to - something different!

Went to our quilting Guild meeting, saw quilts from a new book by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe, talked to friends and bought some new hand applique needles. Had an offer of a textile play day, swapped some ATCs and drank some very ordinary coffee. Not a bad start!

03 February 2008

Of course

this is a Jane Sassaman design. Saw it, had to have it. This fabric is crying out to be coloured with pencils, don't you think?

02 February 2008

Happy Saturday

Being the first Saturday of the month, we gathered at the pub for quilting. There was torrential rain, high humidity and plenty of flies buzzing around, but we still managed to talk, talk, talk, share show and tell and have a good lunch. I even had a completed quilt to show (can't show it here yet - it's for a challenge).

My life is about to change direction because I am leaving my job next Friday. After working for four years in my current role, it's time to move on. I plan to enjoy a few months pottering around before I even think about a new job - enjoy a sabbatical, if you will. Bliss - all the fun things I can do!

A happy textile postcard I made for a friend a while back. With its cheerful colours, it always makes me smile!