Saturday, April 26, 2014


Call me old fashioned, but I still like to hold a book in my hand, look at the pictures time again and, God forbid, underline all the important bits! My collection of books give me a sense of well being. I have taught myself how to do art quilting through books.
The following is my top ten titles that have been the most inspiring and useful to myself. If I had to choose only 10 books to keep, these would be the ones.
 These are in no particular order.

Number 1
Finding Your Own Visual Language by Jane Dunnewold, Claire Benn & Leslie Morgan
How to gets started, move forward and go deeper in producing the ideas you have in your head.
Lots of visual exercises and a wonderful further reading section at the end.

Number 2
Color Play by Joen Wolfrom
I have quite a number of books about colour and I think this is the best. The information is useful for quilters at any level. Joen has also a colour tool which I highly recommend.
I used the tiadic colour scheme of blue, red and yello-green in my quilt 'I Dream in Colour' (

Number 3
Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter by Katie Pasquini Masopust
This book is chock-full of explorations in concepts such as shapes, lines, details, repetition and even blind painting!
Katie has a range of similar titles; it was really hard to choose which one I liked the best.

Number 4
Free-Style Quilts by Susan Carlson
This book revolutionized my art quilting practice.There are no rules and the 'collage' technique is fun and easy. Susan's quilts are truly inspiring. Katie is very fortunate to have done the workshop with Susan recently.
I used this method for the rabbit in 'Rabbit Proof Fence' and 'Dorothy's Quinces' (

Number 5
Contemporary Quilts by Sandra Meech
Inspiration for creativity. How to create a sketchbook and build up a dossier of design ideas. Developing themes and techniques.
Sandra has a number of similar titles.

Number 6
Art Cloth by Jane Dunnewold
This is the 'bible' from this guru of surface design. A wonderful reference book for techniques such as dyeing, discharging, screen printing, stamping, stenciling, painting. Supersedes 'Complex Cloth'.

Number 7
Dancing with Thread by Ann Fahl
This a guide to free-motion quilting. Create designs using your own doodles as patterns. Add movement and personality to your quilts. The best thing about this books is the troubleshooting guides to solve common problems- I go back to this whenever I am having difficulties. Ann also has a book out on thread sketching (Coloring with Thread) which is also very good.

Number 8
 4000 Flower & Plant Motifs by Graham Leslie McCallum

I was so happy the day I found this book. Not many of us have the time to spend drawing from original sources (although I think this is by far the best way for development of your own personal imagery). This has been a very useful resource for looking up designs from different historical and regional perspectives.The designs are copyright free.

Number 9
 Nature's Studio by Joan Colvin
Joan's quilts are uniquely elegant and inspiring. She shares some valuable techniques on creating soft and hard edges and colour blending. Again it's all about developing your own style.

Number 10
Ruth B. McDowell's Piecing Workshop
Although I rarely use Ruth's methods for piecing, I felt I had to include this author as her quilts are awesome. It would be worthwhile to learn at least the first couple of techniques. Although these techniques are time-consuming, the end results are truly worth the effort. I used this method in the background of my quilt 'Cameron's Drought' (

Monday, April 21, 2014

Never stop learning something new!!

They say that learning should never end, well, I'm a firm believer in that.  Just the other day, I took a fantastic workshop.  Our teacher, Susan Carlson from Maine was inspirational and in the May reveal, you will see what I completed.  Susan is a trained graphic artist and when she discovered the love of fabric, magic happens.  Her technique is fabric collage without using fusible web, rather the power of school glue.  Please visit her website and never stop learning.

Photo taken on Tuesday April 15, 2014 at the York Heritage Quilters Guild meeting.  Toronto, Canada

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tastes and techniques change

A few years ago I belonged to another challenge group, the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. They have a challenge each month, with some parameters, wide or narrow, and the idea is that you complete the challenge within a week, no overthinking, lots of chance to experiment. It is always good to have a playday, even when you are in middle of a larger, more difficult work that is going to take weeks or months to complete.

I made this one for a space challenge, using lutradur through my inkjet printer, and a photo from NASA of the Orion Nebula. I have never used that technique since, and I was a little disappointed that the colours were not as intense as I hoped.

Luckily, time has passed, and I have evolved, so I wouldn't want to repeat that for the current theme.

The downside of the evolution is that we accumulate fabric, threads and supplies over a number of years, and then find it is not to our current taste, or, as in my case, I now use a lot of my own hand-dyes. What to do with all that commercial fabric in turquoise, magenta and multi-colour prints? Originally I imagined I would do some bed quilts using strips or blocks, but that is not going to happen!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Latitude Aussies finally meet!

Deborah & Linden at AQC 2014
After 18 months of 'getting to know' each other online through the Latitude Quilt group, Linden and I finally met, face-to-face yesterday.
Although we live in the same state of Australia, we are separated by some 3 hours drive, with Linden living in the north of the state and me in Melbourne. 

The Australasian Quilting Convention, being held over 4 days this weekend, brought Linden and her husband to Melbourne, giving us the opportunity to rendezvous at the Expo.  We met up for coffee and a bite of lunch, both ready to sit and rest our weary feet for a while! 

AQC is a combined Expo, quilt show and convention of workshops, seminars and other activities. There is something for everyone, and a feast of fabrics, quilting gadgets, patterns, machines and books to tempt all who venture through the doors! To see some of the amazing quilts that were on show, visit the AQC website. Linden has a couple of beautiful quilts on display this year - it was worth a visit just to see them! 

Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne
The Royal Exhibition Buildings are World Heritage listed, featuring some of Melbourne's fine early architecture. It is a large, impressive space, located in the heart of the city and surrounded by beautiful gardens (and some treasured elm trees that have not been exposed to the devastation of Dutch Elm disease), so well suited to an event such as this.

Linden and I spent a lovely hour or so chatting about family, life, music and - of course - quilting! We both agreed that it is so lovely that the Latitude quilt group has brought together two people who may never otherwise have met, even though we live in the same (somewhat vast) country!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Learning to Work in a Series

When reading about various artists and their development, you often notice that they work in series. Whether it's Picasso, Monet or Nancy Crow, working in series is often attributed to developing their style, improving their skill as well as developing a cohesive body of work.

Since I was interested in all of these things I decided to do a course on working in a series.

The first thing I learned was that you need to choose a theme that you are passionate about so that you don't become bored too quickly. I chose emotions and decided to start with depression. My interest in emotions is from the effect that various emotions have on your spirit or soul.

I then learned to set up certain parameters that would be constant throughout the series, such as the size, the colour, the style and to have other parameters that would change such as any of the above.

My first piece: Depression #1


When I was doing my self critique of this quilt I decided that I liked the damaged bohdi leaf that represented the damaged spirit but I felt that the colours were a bit too bright to convey the idea of depression.

Based on these decisions I did a second piece with the same basic design but with more muted colours.

Depression #2:

I liked this colour palette better as it had the subdued colours of depression as I perceive it. I also used this design to work out a better visual path around the design by printing darker and lighter areas on the right side of the design.

At this point I felt that what I was most interested in in the design was the bohdi leaf and its deterioration.

For the third quilt I focused on the bohdi leaf and on the use of texture to try and draw the viewer deeper into what I was trying to convey.

Depression #3:

This quilt was a new and scary direction for me as it depended almost entirely on free motion quilting which I find quite intimidating especially in a pale colour on a dark background!

On critiquing the quilt I felt that I should have left more areas where the quilting was more open to add a bit of variety to the design, so in my next quilt....

Stay tuned for further developments!