Tuesday 22 December 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

 Christmas is finally here and what a year it has been. I think back to the start of the year and how we had no idea of what was about to happen.

In Melbourne, we had some of the toughest restrictions in the world. From March to November, we could hardly leave our house except for supermarket shopping. We weren't allowed to drive or walk more than 5k from our home and were not allowed to be out after 8pm at night. I remember how quiet it was with no traffic noise.

Luckily, those tough restrictions worked and we have been zero cases for 6 weeks now. After what we have been through, most people have been talking about what a great Christmas they want. The shops have been really busy. We went shopping on the first weekend that they were allowed to open and we couldn't believe how full of toys all the shelves were. When I went shopping last week, there was row after row of empty shelves, people have been shopping!

Christmas is at our place this year and so I bought some new decorations to add to our collection.

I bought a white Santa, trees and reindeers to stand out against the brown wood.

I got out all my nutcrackers.

I went shopping last week with my daughter, Alison and Savannah, who is 6 years old now. She is such a good girl and never complains.

We had to have a photo with Santa, even though it was a socially distanced one. My other daughter, Bec was in the photo this year.

So, Christmas is here and I know that we are very lucky compared to other countries who are in winter and that virus keeps spreading. Stay safe everyone. 

Thank you to the people who read my blog, I don't expect anyone to read it but I do enjoy it when I get some comments.

Merry Christmas,

Bye for now,


Tuesday 15 December 2020

The Sketchbook Challenge

 A couple of months ago as the UK went into lockdown, Laura Kemshall from Design Matters TV announced that she was teaching an on-line sketchbook challenge that would go for 8 lessons.

We were actually just coming out of lockdown as we had no more virus cases and all the shops were opening, but I decided to sign up anyway, just for fun. Laura suggested that we don't use a sketchbook that was spiral bound and of course all mine had that except for one that I had made years ago and had never used.

I had made this sketchbook out of good watercolour paper, so it was perfect for the project.

Week by week, she went through many ideas and examples of what we could do. What a perfect chance to get out my paints, pencils, stamps, stencils and bits and pieces and play around. Laura suggested that we try lots of things and all different media, to discover what we really like to do. Not to worry if something doesn't work out, you just paint over it and try again.

On one page I glued in a magazine picture of some apples.


Then I painted the background green, added some text with some stamps and did some drawing with a black felt tip pen.

Apple page 

I wasn't happy with a page that I had painted orange and black, but I was trying not to be too pretty!

So, I drew some jugs on some white paper and glued them in and added another drawing on the other page.
Jugs and bottles page

Not perfect but I liked it a lot better than before. 

I glued another magazine photo of a rabbit.

I didn't know what I was going to do with this page, so I tried doing some painting around it.

I still wasn't happy, it was far too messy for my taste. When we got up to the text lesson, I tried again.

Time page

I like it better now, but I am just experimenting and trying things out.

I had painted a photocopy of a dead agapanthus flower a few years ago and so I glued that picture down.

I decided to paint blue onto the rest of the paper and then draw some agapanthus flowers in various stages as they were just coming into flower in our garden.

Agapanthus page

I had a mono-printed vase on one page and then drew another on the facing page.

Vase page

I had glued down a photocopy of some red leaves and painted around it. 

Once again, I tried stamping some text and added my own drawings to finish it off.

Leaf page

I'll just show one more page, I had some spare copies of a photo of two of my grandchildren, cousins Jack and Savannah hand in hand doing some Christmas shopping last year.

Laura had taught us to paint some gesso over the outside of the photo so it could accept paint. Then I drew some Christmas pictures around it.

Christmas page

It was a lot of fun to do. Drawing with a felt tip pen can be scary but you just have to be brave and put up with drawings not being perfect.

I guess it is pretty decorative and not really art but it's my book and my chance to play around.

I've done lots of other pages and still have 4 or 5 blank pages to do. I love doing this so much more than I thought I would. The pages can be quite time consuming and I could probably just keep going and do nothing else. 

I think I will make another sketchbook and keep doing some pages every so often next year and see where it takes me.

I already know that I like neat rather than messy, so surprise there! I love text and love drawing with a black pen.

I haven't had a lot of practice mixing paint colours, so I would like to improve on that. I'll have to spend some time doing that.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 8 December 2020

Crazy Quilted Christmas Ornaments

 I belong to an on-line group of Australian Crazy Quilters called the Southern Cross Crazies. This year they decided to have a Christmas ornament swap.

I made my three ornaments and sent them off to 3 different people. I had never made anything like that before and so I made mine double sided, but apparently, they didn't have to be!

My ornaments arrived in the last couple of weeks but we couldn't open them.

This morning we all got together via Zoom and opened them one at a time. It was lovely to meet the other members. Most of them had met before at retreats but I had never met them before.

I received 3 beautiful Christmas ornaments.

The first one was from Alison; she made a Christmas Pear and added a stumpwork leaf.

Ornament from Alison

The middle ornament was from Florence, she did some lovely ribbon work flowers and added a gorgeous lace swag at the bottom

Ornament from Florence

The third ornament was from Patti, in beautiful rich colours of purple, green and gold.

Ornament from Patti

All of them are absolutely beautiful and I feel very lucky to have received them.

I don't do very much crazy quilting these days but because of everything being closed and I was between projects, I decided to participate.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 24 November 2020

Magazine Articles

 I've written a couple of articles for magazines lately and they were both published this month.

I wrote an article about the Waverley Art Quilter group that I run for the Victorian Quilter Magazine.

I wrote about the history of our group and how we began in 2007, mentioned some of the artists that we have studied and also talked about how we have been working in a series this year. I was thrilled when they published a 3-page article.

I also wrote an article for the New South Wales Quilting Guild. This time I wrote about how I have worked in a series this year. It was all about the Circle series that I have done, those that have read my blog will know all about it.

The glossy paper is hard to photograph well unfortunately. 

I am not in the habit of randomly writing articles for magazines, but with a shortage of articles due to the Covid 19 lockdowns, they were desperate for content. Luckily, I am used to writing for this blog so they didn't take long to write.

I have actually been asked to write another article for a different magazine and that is due next month. That is a magazine that people pay for and so I had better get on with writing it. Once I'm in the right frame of mind it doesn't take long but this one has to be longer than the previous two articles.

I posted off my Crazy quilted Christmas ornaments today, the group is thinking of having a Zoom meeting where we all open our presents!

Bye for now,


Tuesday 17 November 2020

Crazy Quilted Christmas Decorations

 I have finally finished the crazy quilted decorations that I made for the Christmas swap. I have never made anything like this before, so I was making it up as I went along. Ho hum, at least I did it, I suppose.

Here they are when they were just halves, I have laced them over cardboard circles with some batting for padding. 

I didn't have the correct beads for the tassels and because the shops were all closed, I had to order on-line and wait for a couple of weeks for them to arrive.

I placed the halves together and slip stitched them closed. I tried to do a picot edging at first.

It was taking ages and my thread kept getting tangled into the beaded tassel. I suddenly realised that I wouldn't have enough beads to complete the edge.

Luckily, the shops had just been allowed to open, so off I went with my green beads and they didn't have that colour!!

I had to unpick the beading that I had done and start again, but it was so annoying and the beads looked a bit small and out of proportion and the larger beads I had looked too big. I did put a row of clear beads around the white one but in the end, I just added some braid around the edge of the others.

Here's side one all finished.

Here is the other side.

At least they are done and ready to post, I hope whoever gets them is not disappointed. 

That is the end of my Christmas decoration career!

I was pleased to receive a copy of the Oz Quilts Australia Wide 7 catalogue and find that my quilt was on the cover.

My quilt is the one on the top right. The exhibition is coming to Melbourne next year, so it will be good to see them all.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 10 November 2020

Improv Piecing with Sheila Frampton Cooper

 I discovered earlier this year that I was enjoying Improv piecing which is a big switch for someone who has been concentrating on applique for about 20 years! I was really out of practice but it was exciting to have a new interest.

Just by chance, I read on Facebook that Sheila Frampton Cooper was running a 12 month improv class. I signed up because this was a way to learn the techniques without trying to reinvent the wheel.

We are in month 3 at the moment, Sheila posts a straight and curvy guide with video instruction every month where we learn different techniques. They are just a guide and we are supposed to design our own blocks incorporating the techniques.

We started sort of simply.

These are some of the curvy blocks that I have done so far.

They actually take a long time to make. Apart from sewing the curves, you have to make so many decisions about what and where to sew next.

I am doing my straight pieces in blues.

One of the really inspiring parts of the class is seeing other people's work. There is such a variety of colours and designs. Some people have done classes with Sheila before and so they are much more experienced and are doing wonderful work. 

One of the delights is having a Zoom catch up with the class where Sheila comments on our work and gives some more instruction and hints.

The Zoom catch up is often in the middle of the night for us in Australia but last week she varied the time so the Australians could watch live instead of watching the recording.

Anyway, it's not as easy as it might look and quite time consuming but so addictive and fun.

Some more good news is that we are out of Lockdown after 4 months. At first, we weren't allowed to travel more that 5k and then about a month ago they increased it to 25k. Last week they took the travel limit away and the shops have opened!!

You have no idea how exciting it was to see shops opened and they are so full of Christmas stock that it seems so happy. Masks are still compulsory though. I could finally see my granddaughter Savannah for her 6th birthday last Friday, I haven't seen her since July.

We have had zero new cases for 10 days now compared to the 700 odd cases last July, it is a fantastic result.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 27 October 2020

Storyteller Class with Renee Mueller

 I have been dabbling in an on-line art class by Renee Mueller. I love her romantic style and she has a gentle way of teaching as well. The class was called Storytellers and the idea was to tell a story about something in your life using her techniques as guidance.

I was way out of my comfort zone and decided to just try and copy what she had done to learn the techniques before I set off on my own. As you can imagine, there were seriously talented painters in the class but I kept going, being kind to myself because I am just learning. I also had a very limited supply of paints and pastels and as all shops are still closed and buying anything on-line can take weeks to come, I just used what I had.

This is a little charcoal drawing we started with. My first ever charcoal portrait.

Then we did some abstract collages. We learnt to put masking tape around the watercolour paper to protect the edges.

I actually really enjoyed doing these. Looking at what others had done, I realised that I am a bit too heavy handed with the paint though. I need a lighter touch.

Then we had to paint a flower.

Once again, I was too heavy handed, but it was my first time.

The next and last thing to do is to paint a portrait!! I had been procrastinating about doing it and waited for at least a week. Finally, I thought I might as well try. 

I absolutely love watching the UK show Portrait and Landscape Artist of the year. I have always been in awe of their talent and now I really respect them.

The upside to this year has been time to dabble in some other areas. My life was always so busy and I didn't have much spare time. Apart from the horrible stress of it all, I have had some time to play around.

I have also realised that I am overrun with quilts, especially now that they are all back from exhibitions. I will only make small quilts from now on. 

Mmm, maybe my next series will be portraits, not painted ones but in quilts. I would love to master faces and people. That's an idea!

Bye for now,


Tuesday 20 October 2020

Crazy Christmas Decorations

 I joined a Crazy Quilt Christmas decoration swap and made the commitment to make 3 decorations. I have been working away at them in the evenings in front of the TV. I have made them double sided and made them in three colours, red, green and white.

They are only 3 inches wide and will be a circle shape. They actually look better than they appear in the photos for some reason.

Now I have to work out how to make them into decorations. I am planning to cut some circles out of foam core board and wrap and lace the decorations around it. I think that they will need some weight, so I'll have to add a tassel or beads hanging from the bottom. I know why I don't usually do this sort of thing- it's sort of fiddly!

My quilt was selected to be in the Oz Quilt Network- Australia Wide 7 Exhibition. The tour is about to start and they made one of their advertisements using my quilt. I think it looks good.

Bye for now,