Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ill-gotten gains, part 2

I think I've said before that our house is FULL. We have enough Stuff of all descriptions, and I'm constantly turfing things out of cupboards and trying to get the Stuff in manageable proportions. So if I want to buy something memorable or a little treat just for me, I usually make it either consumable (chocolates, fabric) or something I can hang on the walls. Which are not yet full, because of the beach house. So my ill-gotten quilting gains went towards a memory of my trip to New Zealand.

This is a lithographic print by Jacqueline Aust - the picture is terrible because it's hard to photograph something under glass but her website is here and there is some way cool stuff (the one I have is called "Suspended"). It used to bother me that my favourites were prints, as if I wasn't serious enough -or too cheap- for the oil paintings, but then I started saying "my interest is primarily in works on paper" and it all came good!!! Amazing what a bit of bullshit will do. It is true though. This is my 40th birthday present - an Elizabeth Nyumi limited edition print that I still love.

And here is a momento of a previous visit to Wellington - Tony Rush and Kiddy Kart.

Can you tell I shop when I'm overseas? This one is from Christchurch in 2006 when I was there for the Post Office Agents Association bi-annual conference (don't laugh, I was a presenter, poor buggers). It's a lino block "Tane Mahuta and the Tui" by Alice Strange. I think what I most like about prints is the technique - lithographic or woodblock or lino cut, it's all quite fascinating. Maybe when I retire I'll take up a new hobby! Because I need that, with all my spare time.

The print stuff has been going on for quite a long time - we have quite a few from Gigs Wena, who used to sell at the local craft market when we lived up in PNG in the 1990s (if you click through to his photo he hasn't changed a bit - he had those dreads then too! Why mess with perfection). He did our wedding portrait (which is another story in itself) and we also have lots of little pictures when he went through a dainty phase. Actually many of our family and friends may also have received a Gigs as presents from PNG - after we'd given everyone carved turtles and a kundu drum we moved onto pictures. Here is some cuscus - possums - from Gigs, although it appears his style has evolved since then.

So that's a wee tour around our walls. Not worth anything or ever likely to be, but a story behind every one, and a good way for a dodgy part-time artist to support some proper ones.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ill-gotten gains, Part 1

I've gone and done something I never thought I would do - sold an actual quilt, in an actual shop. Well, not really a shop, it's the local co-operative art gallery down at the coast, but it certainly sells stuff. I go in there whenever I go past and there's a pretty good collection of things - mostly art that hangs on the wall but also a bit of pottery, jewellery and a sprinkling of other crafts. They were very welcoming and relaxed about me putting in some quilts, so I did, and two of them sold! Isn't that exciting? The gallery takes 30% commission to cover costs and seems to be run on a largely volunteer basis.

I am quite chuffed with this, but of course there is that lingering suspicion that I am being a Bad Quilter because of the ridiculously low price I put on them - $150 for a double or queen sized quilt. It doesn't even cover materials, let alone any of my time or any overheads, or (heaven forbid) make a profit. And when you do that - essentially give your time away for free - you are in danger of undermining every other quilter in the world who actually wants to sell quilts for a realistic cost. I am, in theory, very supportive of the "We are Sew Worth it" argument, and think that that the buying public are, in general, unaware of the amount of time and effort that goes into hand made items.

But. But. I'm not in the quilting business and I don't make quilts for money. I enjoy making them, and I give them away for free all the time. I make whatever I want, in the colours I want, to the quality that I think is satisfactory. I like the idea that people will buy them and enjoy them. To me, $150 is quite a lot of money for an object, and I would treasure anything that cost me that much. And there is the question of the market. Most of the paintings in the gallery are about the $300 mark for an original of a decent size. If I tried to cost recover I would have to charge about $2000 a quilt, and no-one would buy it.

Nothing is ever simple, is it. I should just be happy that I have two quilts out of the cupboard, and $210 in my pocket.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Equal and opposite reaction

So my scrap-and-circles quilt top is together and I bordered it in a large scale pattern that I love but, to be honest, I've never really found anywhere to put it. That's the problem with the big beautiful prints, they don't always play nicely with others. So this is a bit to-hell-with-it-I'm-going-all-out. It's folded into quarters in this photo - the whole top is six by six and the border goes all the way round.

I decided not to do other circles in the joins - I put a few on just to see and it looked a bit busy. I know, how could it get any busier? Perhaps what I meant to say was the circles started to take over, and it just looked like rows of dots rather than a proper scrap quilt. I haven't decided on the quilting yet, maybe straight lines to counteract all that circular business.

And, because every action gets a reaction, I'm starting on the next quilt and it will be not scrap and will be properly planned. And possibly even restrained. I want to use this flag fabric that I have had for ages, and I'm thinking a red white and blue theme. Here's the preliminary pile of fabric that might go with it .... look how contained it is! how un-clashing! I haven't decided on a pattern yet but I think something very simple that will go together quite quickly.

Other than that work is busy, school is busy, weather is hot, exercise is non-existent and I still hate cooking. Number one son cannot wait to see the back of baseball forever, and number two has just auditioned for another production. We are thinking of adding a bedroom to the beach house (the front neighbour in the identical mirror-image house has just done it, and it's great) but actually getting that started needs a bit more time and thought than I have at the moment! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Bludging not blogging

I've been a slack blogger lately - having too much fun and occasionally working. We spent the weekend down at the beach and it was GLORIOUS. Perfect weather, nice big waves, drinks with the neighbour and number one son took a friend along so was kept entirely entertained. Even the dog behaved herself (mostly). We're having the usual Canberra February heatwave with temps in the mid 30s for the past week or two, and it was just magic to completely immerse myself in the large cold sea. And float around.

The waves don't look like much in this photo! I went around to the other beach, where there were some crackers. I love to boogy board, and I'm trying to pick it up a notch and catch the bigger waves (not just the ones knee deep that I share with the four year olds ... which are fun, don't get me wrong). I might need fins if I'm going to catch them out of my depth, and I'm not entirely sure how that works. Luckily I am well beyond the point of embarrassment at that beach - if they can bear the sight of me in a twenty year old wetsuit, they can stand me in fins.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Washi tape

Have you heard of washi tape? It's a Japanese thing apparently, coloured adhesive tape, that you put on stuff. Purely decorative, and comes in an enormous range of patterns and colours. Apparently the original stuff was made from proper Japanese washi paper, but I don't think the tsunami of rolls that is currently sloshing around my house is. Number two son hit on this trend at the end of last year, and asked for tape from Santa. Santa obliged, because Santa likes a present with pandas on it, especially if it's around the dollar mark.

This is a decorated notebook - it is very pretty. We also have decorated shopping lists, envelopes, tissue boxes and writing paper. Stripes are common, and also borders.

We have decorated jars of vanilla essence, and cinnamon.

And a kitchen timer.

Perhaps the cutest thing you can make are tiny little washi toothpick flags. The sacrificial gingerbread had one through his heart, and so did the Christmas salad, and the prawns. I don't know what number one son is doing there - trying to get in the picture I think. Honestly, why would I take a photo of my children when I can get a washi tape flag stuck into a tomato.

I like to capture all their enthusiasms as they go past - it seems like forever that we lived and died by Thomas the Tank Engine, and now it is completely forgotten. Well, forgotten by him, I can still tell Murdoch from Fergus at fifty paces.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Some actual sewing

Believe it or not I have actually spent some time in the sewing room this week. Despite the shock of going back to work and school (more of a shock for the boys than me! They are at the stage of sleeping until 10 if I let them, and 0700 horrified them) I managed to get some sewing time in. Michelle sent me some more wonderful selvedges - thank you!!! It is so much more fun sewing with other people's than my own. Especially when they have little cupcakes on them.

And Dr Seuss creatures.

And bricks. Love it! The whole length of the fabric must have been a bit startling.

So I am up to 63 selvedge blocks now and I think it will have to be at least 12 by 12 - 144 blocks. I can't really put a border on it because it's double weight with the backing fabric. But that's OK - it can be a long term project.

Other than that I have been looking at my scrap blocks again, and this time put them together with plain blocks and sewed a circle in the middle. I might do more circles when I sew them together, or I might not. It might be too much?