Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Today is my last day as a 50 year old something and tomorrow a new decade of 60's begins. I am no longer one of the young ones in my quilt group unlike when I started . When I first went to a quilt group I had two  young children, somewhere along the way a third daughter came along and she used to come to AQA meetings with me because I wasn't going to miss a meeting. In those days  around 1995 there was a stellar group of quilters at AQA and meetings literally buzzed. Ynez my youngest daughter would be in her carry basket under my chair, and once I got so carried away with some demos going on that I completely forgot she was under the chair- until I suddenly realised and called out in panic- the last time I went to an AQA meeting last year, several reminded me of that event- it had stayed in their minds and had caused much amusement. Irving Green , bless his soul, used to say I had such a beautiful quiet baby because I exposed her to the hubbub of quilterly noise, whilst  with his baby granddaughter he had to tip toe around for fear of waking the child. I don't know, but I have to say these things seem almost like yesterday.

I started quilting in 1989 and knew almost straight away I had found my passion. I had sewed and even embroidered as a teenager, I had also knitted and crocheted, making my own fairisle designs and  knitted motifs inspired by Jenny Kee- but when I made that first quilt, a grandmothers flower garden block variation from a Pauline Burbidge book, and even though I did not like the resulting quilt, as a result of the fabrics i chose - I had found what I  had wanted to do.

The passion stayed alive despite a few years ago when I really felt like bailing out and getting a full time job to pay the bills instead of the uncertainty of  income that quilting and teaching brings.I think my passion waned a bit because since 2008 I have been a single mum- and I found that the needs of teenage daughters and running a business was crazily hard- harder than when they were babies, teenagers do not have afternoon naps for a start, and I seemed to be in the car a lot of the time for one reason or another. It was a phase that all mothers go through and I have to say that despite the teenage years and their angst my girls have grown into beautiful, independent , talented young women, that I am incredibly proud of and who are following their own paths into the world . I could not ask for more.

And now I am house sitting the house of a friend in Le Triadou close to Montpellier. I spent time here in 2010 because in all reality I had struggled to find equilibrium after divorce. My friend Liwanag Sales ( also a quilter) had been through a similar thing, except she had more children , but together we talked and talked and talked away a lot of the bitterness that surrounds such events. It started me on another journey. The idea of creating a book that  talked about my creative process and how travel affected my creativity, because literally my suitcase is often my studio.I dilly dallied around with the idea when I returned to Australia, and the Sentinelle series intervened including a certificate course in desk top publishing which I loved. The Sentinelles somehow inspired people, though I never really exhibited the whole series in Australia- but people responded to their sense of spirituality and the opportunity to create a story in stitch. I never expected such a beautiful ethereal and  deeply moving exhibition would result.The work of  many other hands working with a linocut image I had made. It restarted me touring things again, which I had stopped doing in 2010.

Then my daughter studied Visual Communication and Design at RMIT and I have to say she pushed me to finally get the book made that I had been talking about. I had made pieces for it, I had kind of created a story, but I had not pulled it together in any coherent way. To create this book as a collaboration with my daughter Celeste  ( Celeste Galtry Creative)was a wonderful experience. She helped me with the Pozible fund raising campaign- which so many of you supported and made self publishing the book possible, and for which I am eternally grateful. She bossed me around, she kept my nose to the grindstone and she designed a beautiful book that sings of her aesthetic, but also showcases my work and the story I wanted to write. Then my good friend Moulin did the translation so the book could be bilingual. I am very proud of what we all achieved and it was a huge learning curve. and I am thinking of embarking on another journey like it in a year or two. It combined two things- my love of textile and my love of books and being able to do it with my daughter and a good friend was a special experience.

Part of a series of work in that book , the Chartres chapter is being exhibited in Chartres from 12 March 2016- 20 March 2016- and I have to say it's a thrill to be able to show the Chartres inspired pieces in the place that inspired them. And then  onto Quilts en Beaujolais in April- it's the fourth time I have been  guest artist at the event and I am very grateful  for the support of  Monique and Geoff , but it also means I have to make new work!. Then in June I will also be exhibiting as a guest artist  along with some other incredibly talented textile artists at Forca Fil in Provence. How can I not love this southern part of France?

So I want to thank all of you - my readers, my friends, and my family who have been so supportive since I first started on this journey. When I began I had no idea, the many friends I would make, the laughter and the fun and the sheer hard work that would ensue, but all of you have helped and nurtured the creative part of my soul, you have kept me going when things were tough and you have kept my buoyed during those times and you have embraced my work so thank you!

And then last but not least- my daughter designed some Moo cards for me- which arrived this morning. Whilst I have had business cards in the past I always printed them myself- this is the first time I have had ones printed by a professional company. There is always room for a new thing! And I love them.( the cards are much nicer in reality- not a very good photograph by me)

So if you leave a comment- I would like to send one lucky reader a gift as my birthday gift to you. Your names will all be put in a hat and I shall send the winner something. I will close the comments on Sunday evening- french time .

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Life Tree Linocut

It's been beautiful sunshine most of this week and the dog and I have been doing the long walk. Sometimes I would prefer to do the shorter walk but when we get to the junction where we have to make that decision the dog has on it's face this look of "You are kidding aren't you- come on we are doing the long walk!" Or maybe she loves the Pic as much as I do. Each day it seems different and each day we encounter something different- the little changes of the season, the moodiness of the clouds, the clear blue sky, lately the birds have been twittering madly.The almond tree has sprung into full blossom almost overnight and everywhere spring is trying to burst.

I have been doing some hand stitching . Have to get some batting to do machine stitching ( am waiting on that from Victorian Textiles who so kindly sponsor me with batting- thank you) I have been stitching on some banksia's - what else, but I quite like how weird and quirky these are turning out- it's exactly what I had in mind for this banksia variation.

I have also been working on a big linocut of a tree. I like to think of it as a life tree/tree of life. It measures 40 cm x 50 cm and is by far the largest linocut I have made. It took ages to carve it out, but as it was wamr and sunny outside I could sit outside and do it.

Inking up the linocut ready for printing. I like to use a denser black textile printing ink these days- that is also on the ordered list awaiting for arrival. But I was really keen to see how it would look after all that work!
The background fabric is quite busy but I like the light shining through the middle of the tree and with stitching it will  bring it alive .

The blue background is more even. This print is for sale in case anyone is interested . The price is $40AUS ( it is twice the size of my previous largest print) plus postage. Email me if you would like a print!

There are still some spaces for the workshops in Le Traidou which begin next weekend. All workshops will go ahead You can look at the program here. There is a real opportunity to develop your work if you are so inclined as well as learn lots of techniques.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Workshop Program for Le Triadou

Workshop Program at Atelier Printemps Sacre- Le Triadou
I have been devising a program for workshops whilst I am at Atelier Printemps Sacre at Le Triadou. Le Triadou is approximately 20 km from Montpellier on the North side of Montpellier and is easily accessible.We have an atelier downstairs which can be utilised for working in and there is also a large undercover area where we can do wet work such as printing or dyeing.If you are coming from a long distance it may be possible to accommodate you for a small fee.

Commencement: All workshops are one day, commencing at 9.30 am until 16.00 in the afternoon and tea, infusions  and coffee will be provided . Workshops are limited to 5 participants so the space will be comfortable to work in. Workshops will proceed whether there are 1 or 5 participants. There will be a one hour lunch break. Bring some food to share.

Experience I have been teaching for more than 20 years and have a Masters in Visual Arts ( a higher degree). I believe in finding creativity within us all and I am well able to help you in overcoming creative blocks and stumbles. I like to encourage  participants to  follow their own ideas- but I am here to guide you and help you! I also teach skills and techniques to help you find your own voice. You can attend one  workshop  or follow the whole program to build your skills and creative voice.

12 February 2016 ( Friday) Dyeing fabric-

I teach you the basics of dyeing fabric with Procion dyes, plus some of the techniques i use in my own work. You will go home with a pallette of colours and some pieces with interesting shibori effects.We will also look at simple resist techniques to create interesting effects such as scrunching, tieing, and folding. We will discuss colour mixing, but there will not be any gradation dyeing.
The workshop can be adapted to dye specific colours for particular projects, e.g. sea colours,brights, and even lengths of cloth (though this may entail paying a little bit more for dye depending on the length of cloth). Participants can nominate specific colours they would like to dye.This workshop is suitable for all  interested in dyeing and you can dyed t-shirts or old sheets.

Cost 50€ plus 12€

You will need to bring:

6-8 metres of pure cotton fabric ( old cotton sheets can be utilised but will dye a bit differently)
rubber gloves
old clothes/and or apron
Synthetic wool for tie dye or elastics ( small)
plastic bags in which to take your fabric home in
6-10 containers  ( icecream containers are very good) to put your fabric in whilst dyeing
a wiping cloth

13 February 2016 ( Saturday) Printing Fabric

You can print the fabrics you dyed on Friday or bring some fabrics that are not too patterned and not too dark in colour.  This workshop is designed to show participants simple techniques to create individual fabric which can be made at home without great expense.
This is a good workshop in conjunction with the dyeing workshop as hand dyed fabrics lend themselves to being printed- however commercial fabrics can also be printed.
Methods include printing with foliage/leaves/seed pods, found objects or anything with a relief surface, linocuts, stamps, bubble wrap, doilies and stencils. I will demonstrate how to make , and a stencil with plastic contact paper.
I will have some of my linocuts available for you to use as well. We will build up layers of interesting shapes to add depth to the resulting printed cloth.We also  look at the African painting technique and create some cloth using the technique.
Cost is 50 € for a whole day plus a 15 €

You will need to bring

6-8 fat quarters of fabric ( you can bring larger pieces if wished or more)- fabric in  softer colours works best  and not patterned
paint brush ( medium size)
A dense foam roller- available from Bricolage  or larger Supermarkets
A plate ( plastic or meat tray from supermarket) for ink
plastic spoon(s)
foliage- not dried but with good structure
and any stamps or other objects with interesting surfaces
wiping cloth

20 February 2016 ( Saturday) Make your own Linocut and Print

I will take you through exercises to make your own linocuts. You will make a small sampler piece to try out the different gouges and the  lines and marks they make.This sampler can be used for background printing as well. You will then make a postcard sized ( or similar size) linocut for printing on fabric or  paper ( the techniques are slightly different and I will show you the difference).. You can even stitch your printed fabric! ( you willneed to bring some batting and fabric for the back)

A class designed to focus on the lino-cutting process and some experimenting with cuts and texture and the commencement of simple designs. It is not possible to cut complex designs in one day. We will discuss design balance and creating more complex designs, negative space  and how to use your computer in aiding design and refining We will make prints on cloth, different types of cloth, and look at how to use printed fabrics in projects.

Cost is 50€ plus 15€ material fee which included lino. I will also provide the tools

You will need to bring;
Images in black and white of designs you like- bring them in postcard size if possible. Bring several as some will be more suitable than others
pieces of fabric ( you can bring larger pieces if wished or more)- fabric in  softer colours works best  and not patterned
paper if you would like to print on paper
paint brush (medium size)
A dense foam roller- available from Bricolage  or larger Supermarkets
A plate ( plastic or meat tray from supermarket) for ink
plastic spoon(s)

wiping cloth

27 February 2016 ( Saturday) Transfer Printing and Stitching 

We will  explore transfer printing/sublimation dyeing for synthetic materials. We will be using Lutradur ( a polyester non-woven material) or you can bring some synthetic organza to also try. We will work with some motifs and even linocuts and then will explore the resulting prints by way of stitching in the afternoon.Transfer printing is a method of getting permanent colour  onto materials such as lutradur ( a polyester non-woven fibre), polyester fabrics such as polyester organza and satin. It is greta fun and you can be quite painterly or simply use linocuts to create backgrounds with prints. The process allows  you to get up to 3 prints, so that a series of work can be created. We also explore cutting back to reveal the material underneath and free machine stitching to embellish your printed fabric
Niveau débutant ou chevronné - 1 jour - broderie machine L’impression transfert est une méthode qui permet d’obtenir une couleur permanente et stable sur des matériaux comme le lutradur (un intissé en fibre de polyester), ou d’autres tissus en polyester (organza, satin). C’est une technique amusante, qui donne un effet pictural, sur lequel vous pouvez imprimer en linogravure, ou avec d’autres techniques d’impressions. Le procédé vous permet de réaliser jusqu’à 3 impressions, de sorte que vous pouvez créer des séries. Nous allons apprendre à utiliser les peintures à transfert, différentes techniques pour créer des effets et nous perfectionner en broderie libre à la machine. Nous explorerons aussi des techniques de coupe qui révèlent le matériau en dessous, et des techniques machine, pour embellir votre tissu imprimé. Pour cet atelier, prévoir un supplément de 15€/participant (à payer à l’animatrice), ce qui inclut le lutradur, l’utilisation des peintures, linogravures et des crayons à transfert.

 Cost 50 € plus 15 € Material cost ( including lutradur)

You will need to bring:

Paper ( that which you use for normal printing on your computer) at least 20 sheets
paint brushes- small medium, large
 4-6 small jars ( like yoghurt glass jars)
a wiping cloth
an apron Your sewing machine in good working order
Your darning foot( pique libre)
Different coloured threads
a selection of different coloured fabrics, and fabric for the backing
1-2 pieces the size of the paper you will be painting with
Fournitures :
  • rayon papier,
  • aiguilles machine taille 80/12
  • au

  • Machine  à coudre, pied piqué libre et mode d’emploi,
  • Papier sulfurisé (environ 25 x 40 cm),
  • matériel à coudre habituel + ciseaux pointus de broderie + fils machine,
  • c moins 20 feuilles de papier blanc (pour imprimante),
  • 2 pinceaux à peinture : 1 pinceau fin,  l’autre plus large,
  • 6 pots de yaourts en verre (plus stables) pour mixer les couleurs,
  • un fat quarter de tissu imprimé, que l’on découpe en deux parties formatA4,
  • 5/6 tissus en harmonie, mais contrastés avec le fat quarter (imprimé abstrait et batik possibles : à choisir sur place avec l’aide de Dijanne),
  • un tissu de dos en format A4,
  • fils machine pour broder qui contrastent avec les tissus,
  • molleton : 3 carrés de 25cm x25cm  pour rembourrer certains
  • endroits,

4 March 2016 ( Saturday) Trees,Trees, Trees

Using raw edge applique  you will design your own tree incorporating some of the ideas and stories about trees, such as Trees of Life.  You will also quilt your resulting applique. We will look at design considerations and colours to create your  very own tree piece! Tis is also a good exercise to practice your free motion skills whilst creating a unique piece. There are so many wonderful trees in this region- there is plenty of inspiration!
 Cost 50 € whole day

You will need to bring:
Your machine in good working order
Your darning foot( pique libre)
Machine stitching needles
a selection of different coloured threads for the embellishment
a selection of fat quarters in the colours you would like to work with
A piece of batting 50 cm x 50 cm
a piece of fabric for the back
a piece of Vliesofix 45 cm x 45 cm
a pencil and some drawing paper

if you would like to join a class please email me 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chanelling Banksias

I have been  making banksia quilts  in one way or another  for  some years going back to before the year 2000. At that time I was interested in the flowers and trying to represent them, but lately it has been the actual seed pods that have become my obsession. And I have been searching for ways to capture their essence and their weirdness. For me they seem to be mouths talking or babbling, of secrets  whispered from the bush, so I am rather surprised that there are so few indigenous stories dealing with banksias. Yes they did occur in May Gibbs books as bad banksia men- but they don't seem bad to me- they seem intriguing, full of potential and full of stories- and I love a good story.
So over the years this is what I have been doing with banksias. The first two images are from before 2000 one drawn with the right hand and the other with the left hand.

And then follows many variations. I keep redrawing them , keep rephotographing them, keep restitching them, making them into prints, sawing them in half and printing with them. They have become my big, wirey, gnarly ,intriguing, absolutely unique,knobbly,mouths,weird geometry,otherwordly obsession. I will find a way... and there are stories brewing of history of connection of strange happenings. So here is  my obsession in no particular order.

And so now I am trying to create the babbling mouths- I am still prototyping,  but I am getting to the shape and kind of thing I had in my mind- I am interested in the mouths rather than the bulbous part of the mouths.

And there is still time to join the on-line linocutting class starting on January 26 ( Tuesday). The class will run for 8 weeks with lots of exercises to build skills and explore your obsession :-). You will work at your own pace, but the more exercises you do the better your skills will be. I deliver pdf notes with different exercises and ideas and we will have a private Facebook group for discussion. There are still a few places. Email me if you are interested, Cost is $60 AUS and you can pay me  via paypal- just contact me for details.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Back in Le Triadou!

The last 10 days have flown by in a flurry. Firstly a workshop on linocutting at  Open Drawer in Camberwell went ahead ( I had thought it would not) which meant packing everything up in the shed and covering everything with dust cloths two days earlier than I had thought. Then I had to say goodbyes to family and some friends as I am going to be away for some time,then a dyeing session up at my mothers- though I did not end up taking the cloth as it would not fit into my suitcase as I had to bring the European sentinelles back to Europe so they can be returned to their makers and also whatever books I could fit . I can tell you my suitcase weighed exactly 30 kg, and i won't tell you what my hand luggage weighed but I got away with it ( just). My flight left at 3.30 am from Melbourne but was delayed for an hour- and  I flew into Barcelona at  8.30 at night (24 hours later but because of time zones still on the same day) where my friend Margo Bimler very kindly picked me up and drove me to le Triadou, a 3.5 hour drive- so that I could at least talk with my friend Liwanag before she departed for the Phillipines very early in the morning- so we had a lot of catching up to do and also things to sort for my  time here as housesitter, so not much sleep that night. Needless to say my body clock has been a little haywire since and I am only now starting to feel vaguely adjusted- apart from it being cold!

So little work has been done , but I am settling in, and have arranged my desk and workspace- now to get some textile inks and some cloth dyed so I can really get going!

The dog, Nesta, and I have been taking our daily walk- she remembers exactly the route we used to walk in 2010 and the first morning we walked she nearly pulled out my arm in her excitement to  get to  the vineyard within the shadow of Pic st Loup. How different it looks in winter and the Nesta doesn't run as far as she used to, I guess she is approaching middle age and is taking things a little more demurely. But it's been lovely reacquainting myself with the territory that I grew to love so well in 2010.

Pic st Loup is very distinctive and stands out as you approach from the east side of Montpellier. My walk takes me directly in its direction before looping around and returning to the village.
The little stone shed that we always walked past is still there though it's roof has become more dilapidated, But this time I have taken the time to see what is inside- I am surprised I never did previously because I am a curious person at the best of times. It does not look like its been used for quite some time and so the patina of age has added charm.

The patched wooden door only leads to the stone wall behind which makes you wonder why was it  there at all? Perhaps the stone wall was added later. I know  we are in Herault but this landscape always reminds me of that marvelous tele movie Jean de Florette which was a great favourite of ours.I also found some treasure  which is a canister with a siff bottom- all rusted and worn . And then there is the little stone house- last time someone was working on it, but it seems abandoned now-it would be quite lovely to have  as little house...

And finally today I  did some linocutting. Because my body clock has been so awry I seem to be awake for several hours in the middle of the night ( and I am not normally an insomniac) so I have been drawing banksias in my journal ( i did bring one or two banksias with me and now I am wishing I had brought more). I wanted to create something softer for background over which to print the banksias and had not thought about the wonderful shapes the leaves have  and the lovely negative space they create. So I made a banksia leaf linocut inspired by the leaf shapes in the  La Perouse journals/botanical  drawings.

Unfortunate;y I can't print it as I don't have  printing inks here- will have to order some, but it's a start and I can't wait to see what the print looks like.

Next post I will put up a page of workshops I will be teaching her in le Triadou- there is studio space in which to work and even the possibility to stay if you were interested.

And last but not least if you cannot get to le Triadou I am teaching an on-line linocutting class starting 26 January 2016. Of course you can use such other materials as easy cut or  speed cut. The class runs for  8 weeks and costs $60AUS. If you are interested please email me

If you are interested in my book and you are  in Europe, I have books with me which can be posted. The cost of the book is 45 euros and package postage is about 8 euros, making a total of 53 euros. IN France I can be paid by cheque, but otherwise  Paypal is the easiest way to pay me which incurs a small fee. The book contains a dvd  with explanations of the techniques I have used, in French and English and also videos of how I work.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Happy Vegemite and Banksias

Some of you may not know the term happy vegemite, but it means a very happy  person indeed and vegemite is an Australian savoury bread spread.

I am researching banksias and indeed in past years have made banksia quilts, but I wanted to establish a french connection as I am again on my banksia journey. Specimens of Australian flora were sent back to France after expeditions of exploration in the late 1700's and early 1800's .Many years ago when I stayed at Chateau de Chassy Madame Tison asked me about banksias , if there were any early images of the flower, because of  course the la Perouse Expidition arrived  at Botany bay within a few days of  Captain Phillip's arrival in 1788- that question has stayed in the back of my mind for quite some time!

La Perouse's expedition was published  and there were 42 image plates made to illustrate the book- Imagine my absolute vegemite delight on finding these images today in the digitalised version of the book

What treasure! 
d'Entrecasteaux also travelled to Australia to map the territory and bring back specimens. He died on the journey back  and  the ship was taken  in custody  by the British because  it was amidst the revolution and war. It's precious cargo might have been destroyed- there were many  floral specimens on board - except for the intervention of Sir Joseph Banks after whom of course the banksia is named. And of course Nicolas Baudin mapped  Australia before  Matthew Flinders- which is something I did not learn at school .  Baudin was commissioned by Napoleon to chart and bring back samples but Baudin died on the journey back and when the ship returned to France there were many  floral specimens on board as well as kangaroos and emus. It seems that many of the floral specimens ended up in Josephine's garden in Malmaison as well as the kangaroos and emus and there are two species of Australian tree planted on the island of Saint Helena where Napoleon was exiled, that still survive today . Of course now I am deeply desirous of acquiring this book:
Voyage to Australia and the Pacific, 1791-1793: Bruni d'Entrecasteaux

So now I can map another banksia story!

But wait there is more- there is also a woman in this story of discovery- that of Rose de Freycinet whose letters to her friend and mother of her journey were published well after her death. She dressed as a man in order to accompany her husband on his commissioned journey and  was one of the first women on such a journey of discovery. It is now also on the wish list!

A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose de Freycinet on Her Voyage Around ...

as no one seems to have it available.