Thursday 31 July 2014

Photographing art quilts:Part one

How to photograph art quilts:Part one

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Camera manual
  • A wall (Make sure you can stand far enough back to photograph your biggest quilt)
  • 2 lamps with no shades on them
  • White paper (optional)
  • Stools/chairs to lift lamps up off the floor
  • A piece of fabric larger than your biggest quilt to hang the quilts on
  • Pins


  1. Set up the camera on the tripod.  Make sure that it is attached firmly. It is really important that there is no movement at all to have no blurry shots.  If you don't have a tripod put the camera on a stable surface
  2. Place 2 lamps on either side of the wall were your quilts will hang.  Don't put shades on them.  The shades will cast a different colour light or cast shadows on the quilt.
  3. Put the lamps on a chair/ stools etc to lift the light up closer to the quilt.  The aim is to light the quilt with out any shadows or bright spots.
  4. Hang fabric on the wall to attach the quilts too.  I use a large felt square (recycled packaging from farming supplies)  That hangs from a piece of hooked side Velcro. Felt is great to use as the quilt naturally clings to it.
  5. Place the art quilt onto the fabric with a few pins.  This keeps the quilt square and also stops it from falling off half way through a photo shoot.

These following photos show how I set up for a photography session

* In part 2 we will look at how to take the photographs*

Thanks to Benjamin Parkinson, My 10 year old son for these fantastic photos.  

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Art quilting: On job training

This week is the Commonwealth games in Scotland.  Like the Olympics, commonwealth nations of the world come together every 4 years to compete in their chosen sports. It has been great to watch our athletes perform to such a high ability and to see them represent their countries with such energy and commitment.  New Zealand is such a tiny country compared to many of the countries competing but we are doing so well.  (Go Kiwis!!)

Athlete train for years to get to this level of competition.  They will work and sacrifice almost everything they can to be able to represent their country in their chosen sport. They are completely committed in using their time, motivation, organisation skills, stamina, research and perfecting techniques.  We only see one small part of their training the end result. The success at receiving a medal or their failure.

Viewers of art only see one part of the hours of work that an artist will put into the level of expertise in their chosen medium.  They will only see the end result. Artists too are judged in the success of the final performance, the finished art work and whether it sells or not.  The process artist takes to reach this point in their career is varied just like an athlete. Some will have formal education others will have none. But success like an athlete is based upon a lot of sacrifice and commitment. The best education an artist will ever get is on job training and miles and  miles of hard work.

What are some of the things to help an artist progress in their art medium?

  • Hard work.  Nothing beats it.
  • Turning up everyday to work whether you feel like it or not
  • Researching new ideas
  • Experimenting with new ideas, media and mediums
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Being highly organised
  • Learning about all aspects of art business.  
  • Perfecting skills
  • Using time wisely
  • Using resources wisely
  • Budgeting well
  • Asking others for help
  • Utilising other peoples skills
  • Reading and keeping updated on all new happenings in the art world
  • Trying new techniques
  • Having a balance
  • Keep professional relationships flourishing
  • Keeping your mind open to new ways of doing things
  • Keep making new work and being in the studio.  
  • Keeping going when everything isn't working
  • Connecting with other artists on a regular basis.
With hard work and determination artists can be very successful.

'Don't think outboast making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding , make even more art'
Andy Warhol

Saturday 26 July 2014

Photographs this week: Kelsey's school ball

Kelsey had her school ball a couple of weeks ago.  She looked beautiful.  She had a fantastic time.  I just can't believe how much she has grown up.  I have 3 adult girls now.  Where has the time gone.

Her whole outfit (including shoes) cost her $30.00.  I love Second hand shops :)

Kelsey with her friend she went with.  
I had lots of fun doing both their hair and make up.

Kelsey and her sister Jennifer

Kelsey and her Dad.  Philip got all dressed up and acted as their chauffeur for the night. 

Kelsey and her littlest brother Ben.  Tim (13 yrs) was no where to be found.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Livng rurally and art quilting

I love my home and I love where I live.  
It is paradise on earth.  

I am so lucky to be able to look out of my window each morning at such an amazing landscape and beauty.  It is such a peaceful and quiet place and an amazing community.  I really feel very relaxed and so refreshed when I am at home. (who wouldn't :)  ) It is so inspiring to be able to create art here.

View from a 30 second walk along the road

But I have found some challenges being an artist living rurally that I have had to find some creative ways to overcome.  There are many things that are wonderful but a few things that make life a little hard.  

View from behind my studio


  • Living a long way away from  areas where art/quilting show are held.  The one that was 30 mins away has now been stopped.
  • Only having basic art shops close by which sell only  paintbrushes, one type of textile paint and one 'selection' of paper for drawing, water colour, acrylic and oils.  No good quality sketchbooks at all.
  • Only having one quilting shop which only sells supplies for traditional quilting only.
  • All the good teachers/lecturers seem to only go to big cities to teach
  • Living in a small area of a small county don't provide many opportunities for sales or teaching.  
  • Being isolated from other artists.This makes meeting other artists a wee bit more challenging and is makes open studio days harder to organise.
  • A small library with limited resources and it costs per book
  • Limited and expensive broadband

How to overcome these challenges?

With a little thought, work and effort all of these things can be overcome.  I have had to change my way of thinking.

'Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines'
Robert H. Schuller

  • The internet is a wonderful resource for supplies,  contacting people, being able to access classes,  joining a group,  discussing relevant information on forums and to be able to access books and articles.  Budget your broadband as you would money and search before you download.  
  • Books are great teachers.  I have a sister who borrows books and lets me have a read before they go back to the library or we discuss them on the phone. Buy books through book depository or other on-line book shops.  It is so much cheaper without the postage :)  Try swapping books with other family members and other arty folk or local art groups.
  • DVDs are a great educational tool. You can order them and watch them from the comfort of your home and watch them and re watch them to your hearts content.
  • Ordering supplies by mail or though someone you know and visits regularly.  I have a sister who happily gets things for me and brings them down when she can.
  • Car pooling with others to attend classes and booking as a group saves on costs and petrol.  
  • I choose only one class to attend each year or every second year to keep down costs and huge time commitments.  At the moment I am saving for Hollis Chatelain's 10 year class that are starting in Auckland in 2016. (I am so excited) 
  • Learn to do things different ways.  Try to adapt tools and medium you can get hold of and learnt how to use them in non traditional ways. 
  • Experiment with what you have.  By playing with what tools and mediums that you can access you can learn to make do with what you have.  
  • Using scraps of fabrics, left over paint, recycled materials and materials used for other purposes.  Not only is this good for the environment and the back pocket but it also is great if you don't live near specialist shops.  
  • Buy second hand.  My fabric for my quilts are sheets from second hand stores, I also get other material, books and magazines second hand. 
  • Use non traditional stores for supplies.  I.E  white cotton sheets to paint on, make yoru own stencils from OHP transparencies, make your own stamps from erasers, Sharpies to draw on fabric etc.

By creatively thinking, living away from cities doesn't have include a drought of supplies or ideas

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Tutorial: An art quilt top from scraps

Tutorial: Scrap art quilt

  • One sheet of Interfacing slightly larger than the finished quilt
  • A selection of scraps of fabrics in chosen colour
  • 2 pages of an old book
  • Vlisofix/wonder under/ misty fuse or similar
  • fabric paint and metallic paint
  • A selection of printing stuff
  • A selection of stencils
  • Stencil brush
  • Roller
  • Batting slightly larger than the sheet of interfacing
  • Backing fabric which is slightly larger than the batting


  1. Cut a quilt top from white lightweight interfacing cut a piece of batting and backing fabric the same size

2. Rip a page out of a discarded book and iron it onto Vlisofix/Wonder Under/Misty Fuse

3.  Remove the paper from the wonder under then tear the printed page into small pieces

4.  Randomly place printed paper, a selection of scraps of different fabrics onto the lightweight interfacing. Try using some metallics, fibres and sparkly fabrics for added shimmer

5.  Make sure that none of the same fabrics or similar fabrics are next to each other.

6.  Use fabrics of different values, textures, tone and patterns for more added interest.  When you are happy with the placement iron into place.  

7.  Choose a colour of paint to match the fabrics you have chosen.  Use 3 different tones of that colour plus white. I have use a mid blue, teal, light blue and white.  Roll the paint onto the fabric using a brayer (roller)

8.  Choose a stamp and stamp it in a dark colour all over the fabric

This stamp was made from an eraser.

9. Paint a light paint onto bubble wrap and print randomly onto the fabric

10.  choose another sized printing sheet and paint a mid toned paint on to it Then randomly print over the fabric

Printed cloth

11.  Choose another stamp.  I have used a large cork.  They are great to print with and come in a variety of sizes.  Mix another colour of paint with a metallic paint and paint onto the cork.  Randomly print the circles onto the fabric.

I use Fastex textile inks for my work. 

12.  Chose the largest stamp/printing object you have and paint on the surface a light colour paint and print all over the fabric.

The finished fabric ready for stencilling

13.Chose a stencil that you like that can comfortably fit onto the fabric background 2-3 times.   I have chosen a simple flower of my own design.  Chose a contrasting colour paint or a paint that will stand out against the background fabric.  I have chosen a darker blue/purple.  Starting with the lightest paint apply paint to the centre of the flower then add a little more of the dark paint in increments as you head out to the tips of the petals.  Using different tones of the same paint adds more interest to the quilt top.

14.  Quilt the top in a variegated thread which ties in with the colours of the quit top.  I have chosen 3 different free motion patterns for the background (pebbles, geometric squares and lines) and a koru design for each of the petals.  When the quilting is finished add more colour with Shiva paint sticks,  textile felt tips, crayons and Ink tense pencils.  I have used metallic Shiva sticks on the petals and textile felt tips around each petal. 

15.  Bind or mount and hang as desired.

Friday 18 July 2014

Photography this week: Winter beach holiday

 Winter beach holiday

This week has been our mid term holidays for the children.  We have spent 5 days down at Waihi beach.  I love going to the beach in winter time.  I don't have to worry about sunblock, sun hats,  getting kids out of the water and watching were everyone is.  

I really love walking on the beach, taking photographs, walking,  talking and hiking. 

Our holiday was 4 days of contrasts.  A peaceful sea one day and rough the next and no wind then next day we could lie on it.    

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