Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blog Revival

The pace of life at Z Twist Central has changed significantly in the time since my last blog post. I'm still passionate about textiles, of course, but life is broader and more varied than it ever was and different facets are constantly jockeying for space.

Life with a teenager is great and infinitely challenging. A "gap year" turned into her re-enrolling in high school. Now it's VCE exam time with applications for further study in the offing. I don't expect to be re-united with my spare room anytime soon.

In other news, I enrolled in a Certificate III in Visual Art at NCAT. It's local, designed for Mature Age students and full of creative interest. The three streams comprise digital art, studio work and life drawing. I've learned heaps. I've learned enough about using Photoshop to understand why it was so hard to do it on my own. I'm also now a keen beginner with Illustrator. Much more learning in my future is a happy prospect. Meanwhile here's one of my favourite images from my attempts at digital collage.
As an added bonus, it printed beautifully onto fine cotton fabric. I now have a little self-designed jem of fabric to incorporate into a project. 

As for this blog, no promises at this stage. I'd like to see if I can get back into the habit of regular posts. I'd love to read some comments if you're reading this. What aspects of my previous blogging life appeal? What would you like to see here?

In the meantime I do continue to shoot occasional thoughts and photos onto my Facebook page several times a week. Feel free to follow me there and send me your comments. I love to interact.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Moving Along

My apologies for the longer than usual blog-break. There's been a lot going on. I've been shooting the occasional picture and a thought here and there onto my facebook page, but haven't sat down to write a blog post in weeks.
  • Hmmm, I went to insert an image at this point, just to keep things interesting, but instead I'll have to post a link to the blogger "known issues" page, which tells me there's an outstanding problem with uploading photos through internet explorer. Drat! 
As I was saying--there's been a lot going on. First secret crafty Christmas preparations. These were mostly successful and happily received, though I only completed about half as many projects as I'd dreamed up. Sometimes reality can be tough that way!

One reason for my reduced capacity to complete projects has been my ongoing elbow issues. I have a chronic irritating, frustrating tendonitis. After a few months of physio and yet another injection before Christmas, it's still not fully resolved. So I've had to reduce and modify my textile work significantly. I'm determined to get this sorted, even if it means radically changing the way I do things.

After Christmas I had a week away with friends. A couple of days of Christmas catch-ups, a lot of sitting around and eating and some significant discussions made the days go pretty fast. I did manage a bit of  beading and some pattern shopping. I also had my friend D measure me up and down and round and round in anticipation of some pattern drafting. Stay posted for progress on that one.

The biggest change for me this year is that I've invited a young school-leaver to share my home for the next year. She's taking a gap year and moving away from home for the first time. She and her family are such long-standing and dear friends that they really are like my own family, and she was my guest here a year ago,  but this will be very different from anything we've done before. Her sister was already booked for ten days of Chiara's Driving Boot-camp, so I've had company since I got home.

My immediate challenge is to make room in my home for an overgrown teenager. She's too tall for my spare bed and will be here long enough to need the whole of my second bedroom to herself. I need to re-locate my market stuff and tidy the studio. OK, ok, I always have to tidy the studio, but this time it will be a radical sort and re-organisation. I've already bought curtains and started looking at furniture for E's room.

As I said, there's a lot going on--and surely more to come that I haven't anticipated. But I'd better get on to my next task. That will be a cup of decaff coffee for me and another driving lesson with the resident learner driver.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sneaking up to Santa Time

I'm at that slightly frustrating time in the making calendar for someone who loves to blog. It's nearly Christmas. I'm doing lots of making, but it's mainly for gifts. And I hate to spoil the surprise for my friends. At the same time I don't like to leave a blank here either. So I guess I'll post the occasional sneak peak.
This migrated from my knitting needles to my blocking board this morning, via a warm soak in the bathroom basin. Tomorrow I'm hoping to turn it into its final form.
Just to complicate matters, it seems that either my computer or my internet connection doesn't want to play nicely this morning. So I may need to shift my focus there. That's not nearly as much fun as making gifts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bonus and a Challenge

I had a market yesterday at Sussex Neighbourhood House. I've done several markets recently--since doing the Make Craft Your Business course. I still have lots to learn and decisions to make about where I want to go with my textile art. Being out and about with my work is one of the best aspects of a market for me. I love to interact with people about my craft and to see how they respond to my work.
Yesterday's market brought an unexpected bonus. I came home with this dress manequin.
I've been wanting a manequin for a couple of reasons. If I'm going to sell my work online, I need a way of photographing it in context. A live model would be ideal. A dummy is the next best thing. As I discovered while trying to snap this pic, even finding a suitable spot in my house without too much background clutter is a challenge. And I'd like this to tone in with the other display props I've been making for myself. So at the very least I'm thinking I'll cover it with calico.
Then there's a question of body image and reality. That's a much bigger challenge--in more ways than one. One of the reasons this manequin was on offer is that she's quite a small size. I measured the waist and bust when I got home. I don't think I've ever been that size as an adult--never!
An obvious use for a dress manequin is to assist in dressmaking. But that's no use unless the manequin's shape and my body shape bear some resemblance to each other. Even if I'm only going to use it for display purposes, I don't want to fall into the trap of portraying an impossible body as an ideal. So the reality of this slim form is going to have to be fleshed out somehow.
I don't have a plan yet, but I have some ideas. I'm thinking of bubble wrap as a first layer. That will keep it light. Then maybe a some quilt wadding offcuts and some old clothes to give me a layer that's good for taking pins. I'll finish it off with a stitched calico shell. Hopefully that will give me a neat finish. I don't have any markets for the next month or two, so I guess I just found myself a challenge to keep me busy. 

Edited to add:
I've just found this tutorial and am adding it here for future reference. It sounds as though the critical issue is that the dress form should be smaller than me. So I'm off to a good start.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exploring and Translating

I'm not a great traveller. I have grown up in an increasingly multi-cultural nation, in a family where English was a second language. So I am familiar with the challenges, oddities and impossibilities of translation. As an artist I'm forever exploring new territory--resorting to sign language where necessary in my attempts to understand and be understood.

This term I've had a bit more of a chance to explore working with clay. One of the local Neighbourhood Houses offered a one-off workshop to make clay beads. It went so well, that an ongoing class grew out of it. It's a whole new world for me. I'm intrigued by the possibilities. This morning I needed to unwind. And I had a bit of porcelain clay waiting on my table.

I made this.
I started off with a basic pinch-pot. Then I thinned out one side of the bowl a bit more. The pleats came next. Unlike fabric, clay doesn't easily form a crisp fold. Next I shaped the other side of the bowl, then worked the lower part to the point that I hope it will be translucent when fired.  I fiddled and refined as much as I could, never quite sure when communication between myself and my chosen medium would break down completely. I think we're still on speaking terms.
I'm happy with what I've managed to form. I can see things that could be improved, but am not confident enough to push it any further just yet. My plan is to bring this to class next week and see what the teacher has to suggest. If it survives the firing process, I'm planning to use it to hold a candle. Now there's something I couldn't say nearly so well in my usual language of textiles. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

As You Wish

My friend AMR is a self-confessed geek. She is one of the most intelligent people I know. And she has that slightly twisted geeky sense of humour. So I wasn't too surprised when her Christmas wish list included a request for a pi shirt.

"What is a pi shirt?", you ask? I asked the same question. My friend google soon provided an answer. It's a t-shirt decorated with symbols and numbers related to pi--that mathematical idiosyncrasy which describes the ratio between a circle's circumference and its diameter. There are plenty on the market. But you know me--why would I pay for something ready made when I can customise my own version? Besides, even though the layouts are very clever, a lot of the t-shirts are black, boxy and boring. I hope I can do better than that.

I started by checking A's size and preference in t-shirt colours and styles. Then I tracked a suitable one down at a clearance outlet for a few dollars. That way if something goes wrong I can always just try again. I already have lovely fine printable cotton fabric which goes like a dream in my inkjet printer.

Now for a bit of maths. I found a file of pi to one thousand decimal places. That should be enough to make a geek pretty happy and fill the background of my design. Next a diagram and formula. I don't have fancy design software, but Publisher was able to do what I needed. I overlayed the diagram and formula in black over a page full of numbers. I was able to match the ink colour quite nicely to the t-shirt colour.

Here's where the project is up to this morning.
Now I have to soak the printed fabric to get rid of any excess ink. When it's dry I'll use my lightest iron-on interfacing and finish it off by stitching the printed panel to the t-shirt. The final challenge will be holding back until Christmas day to see how it's received. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Festival Day

My day at the Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival was close to ideal.
I spent the day spinning and demonstrating to people of all ages.
The weather was fine. The people were friendly, helpful and genuinely interested in my work.
There was a great group of children who kept coming back to see what I was doing. Several of them had a go on my CD drop spindle. One girl--aged about 9, I think--stuck with it for a couple of hours until she had mastered the skill and then bought a kit to take home.
A woman told me she had "sheering a sheep; spinning and knitting a jumper from the fleece" on her bucket list. She too got started with a kit.
I had knitting needles and wool available so knitters could contribute to the bunting project.
I enjoyed watching people pick over the items on my stall, choosing just the right one out of the variety of colours, textures and sizes. I sold enough to justify the day in financial terms--it was already more than justified in terms of human value. I just wish I could find more opportunities like this in my neighbourhood. If I can't find them, maybe I'll have to help to create them.