Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Thread Painting

I have been busy making some coral and fish using the free machine thread painting technique.

I've been making a series of Coral Reef quilts for a few years now and often make coral with hand embroidery because that is what I did for years with my crazy quilts. But I don't want to make things the same way all the time, I want to change and improve all the time. I can't help it, it's just the way I am.

I am loving using the sewing machine to make coral, it is still time consuming but it allows me to make my motifs in a larger size.

I have also made some fish, it really is good fun.

I have finished the quilt now and entered it in an exhibition, so I cannot show the quilt yet. I think that it might be too pictorial to be accepted though. It won't be the end of the world if it isn't accepted, I can enter it in something else.

We have been put into lockdown again! This is our second week but I am using the time wisely. I am powering through my to-do list and having a big tidy up. In fact, I am going to be ruthless and get rid of things that I haven't used or not going to use, especially if its traditional flowery fabric. I am quite sure that I won't be making traditional quilts anymore, art quilts are too much fun.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Grace Crowley Inspiration

 The Waverley Art Quilters are meeting again in person and continuing to work in a series. Our latest choice of topic is Grace Crowley or Journeys.

I chose Australian Abstract artist Grace Crowley who was born in NSW in 1890. Apparently, she was a quietly spoken woman but insisted that her name be pronounced correctly (it rhymes with slowly). She studied at the Sydney School of Art and began as a landscape painter. She later travelled to Europe where she unexpectedly began to appreciate abstract art. She studied with some Cubist teachers and her style began to change. 

When she returned to Sydney in 930, she was a very experienced modern abstract artist and held numerous exhibitions. She received the Order of Australia in 1976. In 2006/2007 The National Gallery of Australia held a retrospective of her work called Grace Crowley-Being Modern.

Grace Crowley died in 1979 aged 89. Even though she had a successful career, I don't think she is very well known at all. Maybe because she was a woman and in those days it was very hard to get noticed.

I liked one of her paintings in blue and chose that as my inspiration.

Grace Crowley painting from 1951

I liked the way she had included line shapes over the top of her paintings so I tried the idea in Photoshop first.

I was happy with the look and so I included it when I did the quilting.

Grace Crowley by Linda Steele

The other day a package arrived for me from SAQA, it was beautifully wrapped.

Inside were some goodies as a thank you for the Lightening talk I recorded on Working in a Series at the Conference last month.

Thank you SAQA, I was thrilled to receive the gift.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Visiting Adelaide

 I spent last week interstate in my hometown, beautiful Adelaide because I had been invited to judge the South Australian state quilt show. Adelaide was having a burst of extra warm autumn weather which was perfect for wandering around when I first arrived.

I took some photos of the pig statues in Rundle Mall.

That red spot behind them is a Covid sign warning everyone to keep 1.5m away from everybody and to keep washing your hands. That sign is not usually there, but I noticed that Adelaide had many more warning signs than we do over here in Melbourne. The differences in our airports were quite staggering. When I arrived in Adelaide there was a police presence, places to check in and sanitising stations. When I came back to Melbourne there was nothing, you wouldn't have known that there was such a thing! Amazing, when you think that we had the highest number of deaths and the longest lockdown of all the states!!

I had a little walk down memory lane and visited the magnificent Adelaide Arcade. Look at that beautiful blue sky.

Adelaide Arcade

I walked through the arcade to see where I used to do ballet many years ago.

Adelaide Arcade interior

My ballet school was upstairs and when I walked up there was no sign of the old studio.

Upstairs in Adelaide Arcade.

Now I must admit that I did ballet there over 50 years ago and it has definitely been renovated since then, but I did have a warm nostalgic feeling as I was wandering around.

I had a day off after Judging and met with my old ballet friend for lunch. Then I wandered around the South Australian Art Gallery.

I saw a Yayoi Kasuma pumpkin with her trade-mark spots.

Pumpkin by Yayoi Kasuma.

I obviously haven't got over my attraction to circles.

As I was walking through, I passed a group having a guided tour and he was speaking about a work that I probably would have ignored or thought was strange.

Twin Subjecter by Thomas Hirschhorn 2011.

It is of two women with nails all over them. The guide explained that it is about how women are constantly bombarded with advertising and opinions that they are not good enough and have to change to be perfect. Why do we do this to young girls and women? Maybe men have the same issue?

Here is a close-up detail.

Twin Subjecter by Thomas Hirschhorn detail

 Suddenly the artwork felt very important and made me promise to book into tours more often.

The Judges all had a quilt on display at the show and today my quilt arrived home. I took a smallish quilt for ease of packing and posting.

6 pack Shame by Linda Steele

Bye for now,


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

South Australian Quilt Show 2021

 I was very honoured to be asked to be one of the judges at the South Australian Quilt Show. Actually, I was supposed to judge last year's show but it was cancelled because of Covid.

That meant I had to get a permit to enter another state and fly on a plane. The airport wasn't very busy and you didn't have anyone sitting next to you on the plane although we had to wear masks the entire time.

It was so good to be at an actual quilt show and be able to shop for supplies.

Here is the Best of Show and Runner up to Best of Show Display.

Best of Show display

Best of Show went to a wonderful pieced and appliqued quilt by Christine Boxer.

Compass Rose by Christine Boxer

Runner up to Best of Show was a pieced and appliqued quilt by Rachelle Denneny.

Blooming Delightful by Rachelle Denneny

I am originally from Adelaide and so I stayed at my brother's house while I was visiting. Jan Goulter, a committee member was my driver for judging day and the opening day of the show. She was great company and very kind. Here is her quilt.

Shades of Green by Jan Goulter

I caught up with her after the opening and prize ceremony and she was absolutely thrilled to win a prize. She hadn't said a thing to me about being in the show, so it was very exciting to hear her name called out.

Ann Ewer was the Convenor of the show and she also won a prize, it's great when the workers win a prize. if only there were prizes for everyone!!

Ben and Nikki's Quilt by Ann Ewer

I think it was a quilt made for her son and daughter in law.

I took quite a few photos at the show and here are some others that caught my eye.

Aegean Triptych by Alvena Hall

Modern Orange Peel by Kay Calder

Plum Blossom Rain at Kairakuen by Adriana Newton

Passion by Francie Mewett

The theme for the show was Masquerade and the following quilt won the challenge.

Masquerade by Glenys Elliot

As I said earlier, I could hardly believe that I was at a quilt show. I had to buy something, but because I had to fly home, I couldn't buy anything too heavy.

I bought some Cherrywood fabric and some Jason Yenter fat quarters. I've never bought Cherrywood fabric before so I'll be really interested to try it out.

I also bought some stencils.

I had a wonderful time and managed to catch up with some family and friends and look around Adelaide. I save that for another post.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Improv-Straight Piecing

 Last year, I signed up to do an on-line dyeing fabric course and a Improv piecing class with famous art quilter Sheila Frampton Cooper. I haven't found the time to do any dyeing but I have been doing some improv piecing, both straight and curved.

Sheila posts videos every month about different piecing techniques, tips and tricks. She is also making quilts at the same time and we can watch her as she makes design decisions. It is not very often that you get to watch an artist at work and it has been a real privilege. She is such a delight and we can also post photos of our progress and Sheila and the other participants can comment.

I started both a straight and a curvy block. I have abandoned my curvy blocks because I started to hate the colours I chose and really don't want to spend any more time on it.

I persevered with my straight blocks though.

This course is not a block of the month or anything like that, it is advanced design and we have to make the choices as we go.

After we had put a few blocks together, Sheila suggested that we started thinking about how we were going to combine them! This was a challenge and where design considerations really came into play.

I can't remember how many blocks I had done, maybe about 8 or 9, but nothing fit together. I had never designed like this before. it seemed impossible, I wasn't the only one who thought so.

Sheila suggested just putting 2 blocks onto the design wall that sort of went together and start adding piecing to combine them in a pleasing way. I didn't take a photo of my first 2 but here I am starting to combine some blocks.

Sheila suggested that I could make the orange more of a focal point, so the next photo is me placing some orange fabric to see what it might look like.

I wasn't working on this all the time, I had my other quilts to work on, so I would spend a few days on it then leave it for a while. It was actually quite tiring to stare, decide, piece, stare again, try something else... you get the idea!

In the above photo I have the top part sewn together and I am working out the bottom half. You will probably notice that I changed the design quite a bit from those first photos.

Last week I finished the top and I am happy with it. It's a little bit busy for my taste, but it's good to know that I like my designs to be not so busy. We are all different aren't we?

Sailing top

I am glad that I persevered with it, I didn't like it when I started making the blocks because everything I did reminded me of sailing ships! I kept asking myself why I was making these sailing ships! Finally, I just embraced the idea and went with it.

It's not quilted and probably won't be for quite a while because I really have to get on with other things.

There's still 3 months to go with the class with Sheila, I am not sure if I'll start something else or just watch what everyone else is doing. Every month, we have a zoom get together, we watch Sheila try out different things with her quilts, I'll miss that connection with her and all the others. Sheila suggested we all try to get together in Houston later this year, but I don't think our government will allow us to go overseas anytime soon!

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

SAQA Convention 2021

 The SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Conference is on at the moment. This year it is a virtual conference because no international travel is allowed. It is being hosted by the Oceania region which is Australia and New Zealand. There have been lots of guest speakers and presentations from Australia and New Zealand and it has been wonderful. It's only day 4 and I feel as if I have my money's worth already. It is very inspiring and it is obvious that a lot of work has gone into producing such a great conference.

I did a lightening talk on day 2; it is where you present 20 photos and talk for 20 seconds about each one.

My talk was about Working in a Series and how one thing leads to another.

I showed a photo of a couple of my crazy quilts explaining that it was how I started doing my own designs.

Then I showed many of my Coral Reef quilts and spoke about them.

Next, I spoke about my contemporary series of quilts that explores emotions.

Then I talked about my circle series from 2020, anyone who reads my blog has followed on with that saga!

I pre-recorded my talk a week beforehand, so I could watch with everyone else. My husband walked by and said that my voice sounded much deeper and I realised that my cold was coming on before I realised that I had it. I didn't notice a sore throat until that night!

I have lots of lovely compliments from people saying that they enjoyed my talk, which is really nice, they didn't have to say anything.

There was a juried challenge for artists from Australia and New Zealand with the theme Distance and Diversity. I was thrilled to be accepted with my quilt Reef Revelations. We weren't allowed to show it until after it was shown at the conference and the slide show of the exhibition was on this morning, so I can show the quilt now.

Reef Revelations ©2021Linda Steele

The conference is on every day until next Sunday and it begins with an artist studio tour and then onto different talks on various topics. The great thing is that it is all recorded and we can watch as much as we want for 3 months.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Collage with fabric

 I am still wanting to get better at portraits and want to find the method that I enjoy the most. So far, I have used the 4 or 5 value method that Phyllis Cullen teaches and it is very successful. I used the lightweight fusible web, Misty Fuse to create them. Here is the first one I did of my son, Adam.

4 value portrait

After doing a few of them I tried a collage method using Steam a Seam fusible web as the backing and tulle over the top to control all the fabrics for quilting.

Cat collage

The cat collage was fun to make but all those layers of fabric plus the heavier fusible web made the quilting less enjoyable.

Then, I remembered that Susan Carlson uses a collage method using glue and no fusible web at all. She says that the quilt remains really soft and easy to quilt.

I had actually cut up some fabrics to try the method out many months ago and had never got around to trying it out. At the end of last week I came down with a cold courtesy of my grandchildren. I didn't feel as if I could do anything taxing or creative. I found the fabrics over the weekend and got started on a spiral design.

Spiral beginnings

I drew a very rough spiral on some white fabric and started placing the fabrics.

When the spiral was done, I used blue fabrics for the background.

Finally, I had the spiral finished, it only took an afternoon.

It was a fun and easy thing to do, a perfect project when you are not well. Susan Carlson recommends gluing down the edges with Aleene's tacky glue and I had even bought a bottle of it a while ago.

Putting glue on all the edges is where the fun stopped for me, it was really tedious. I didn't do a very good job really, luckily I have a lot of experience with machine quilting and managed to quilt spirals without lifting the edges.

Here is the spiral quilted.

spiral collage

I used batik fabrics because they are tightly woven and the edges don't fray very much. I remembered why I love batik fabrics, I love the texture and the little bits of other colours in them. Although I made the spiral in yellow and orange fabrics, there are little bits of blue, pink and green that makes it  livelier.

I don't think gluing fabrics down is going to be in my future, even if it is a lovely soft effect.

So, I have decided that my next portrait will be a collage method but with Misty fuse behind the fabrics and I will try hard to keep the layers to a minimum. The test will be how I enjoy quilting it. 

Now I just have to find a photo to use. I will wait until I am over this cold though!

Bye for now,