Category Archives: Textiles

Sonia Delaunay


The inspiration for the October project for the Art Quilters was Sonia Delaunay, a Ukranian born French artist whose long career began in the early 20th century. One of her paintings was included in the recent MoMA show at the National Gallery. I was really struck by the bold colours. Here the photo I took of Portuguese Market 1915.

IMG_0312As well as painting she is known for her textile and clothing designs and it is this aspect of her work along with her geometric abstractionism that I focused on for my little quilt.

There is an excellent article on her fashion work here.

I chose one dress shown at 2015 Tate exhibition and one of her fabric designs, shown here in two colour ways, and combined the two. Images from this review and this blogpost about textiles.

Like most things, it was not quite finished by the Art Quilters meeting, there is still some trimming of the appliquéd silk chiffon to be done. Even so I am quite happy with how it turned out.

The geometric shapes overlaying the geometric batik print distort the pattern and add a new liveliness. The semi-transparent fabric allows for a shadow of the pattern beneath to show through.



Waverley Art Quilters set a theme for a small textile piece each month. I have been looking forward to the Architecture theme and had planned to use the Reader’s Digest Building in Surry Hills, Sydney as the inspiration for my work.

The RMIT Campaign for funding to reimagine the Capitol Theatre as an industry and education space reminded me of this magnificent interior, and so I used the amazing ceiling as a starting point for a highly textured work.

It is made from smocked white cotton and primed art canvas. This involved lots of hand stitching over the past few weeks. Once I had a pile of interestedly worked fabrics, my challenge was to piece them together in a way that reflected the amazing crystalline walls and ceiling of the theatre. It has a sort of inverted pyramid shape with strong 45 degree angles and narrow rectangles.

Limited by my smocked pieces this is what I came up with. And from the back you can see all the stitching.

When held up to the light is is semi transparent and I have been playing with various fabrics to put behind it to replicate the coloured lighting that is a feature of the ceiling.

The best effect I think is with the ice dyed fabric at the bottom, but to hide this gorgeous fabric would be a shame, so I may use one of the top two commercial prints.

This is an excellent article on the Capitol Theatre and the architectural contribution of Marion Mahony who did most of the work even though it is largely known as being by Walter Burley Griffin.

See yourself weaving

The calm before the storm. This is how the Handweavers and Spinners rooms looked on Friday night. All tidied up and set up for the Weaving Open Day. The empty tables are for even more looms, tapestry weavers and band weavers.

Just before doors opened at 10.00 on Saturday morning I had a chance to look at what everyone else was doing. It was really inspiring. So many wonderful ways of creating beautiful textiles.

The Louet Erica loom is a very well designed table loom from the Netherlands. It is set up with the rose path threading. My dream loom is a floor loom from this company. Maybe in a few years.

I really liked the strong graphic appearance of the twill weave in red and grey being created by Rosie.

Connie is part of the Kumihimo (Japanese braid making) group. The secret to success she told me is to remember the compass points and be organised. The band being woven on the inkle loom is for a strap and closing tab of a bag woven with eucalyptus dyed yarn.

Trudy is the queen of all things small. She even manages to weave on a mini backstop loom on overseas flights. Today she was demonstrating pin weaving and also had junior visitors having a go at stick weaving.

The soft coloured tapestry is an interpretation of the watercolour painting shown behind.

Visitors got to have a go at weaving, and discovered it is really not very difficult at all. Well done Jenni!

This is the first time I have seen the Lotus floor loom in action, it is usually under wraps. Jan got it all set up with a colour and weave warp. The plan is that we will then use it in the 8 shaft course I am doing once a month. That should be fun.

The rooms were very busy for the whole of the day and we were all exhausted by the time the last of our visitors left. The day was declared a success and we hope to have encouraged lots of people to take their interest in weaving a little further.


I am teaching a simple weaving course at a community house to a small group of enthusiastic students. These are the samples I made for the basic weaving techniques covered in week 1 and for tapestry weaving in week 2.

The first is made from garden hemp cloth stretched on a frame and then threads withdrawn and replaced with a wool yarn; weaving using a long needle.

The second has a 4 ply cotton warp on the same frame and 8 ply acrylic weft. It shows quite a few tapestry weaving techniques. The frames I made from coreflute, tape and tapered polythene tubes have been most successful.

The next samples are for the weaving demonstration I am doing at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Open Day next Saturday. 10am – 3pm 655 Nicholson St, Carlton North.

It was suggested that I do a honeycomb weave, actually it was more like told that is what I would be doing. This is because I used a version of this structure in my final piece for Introduction to Weaving.

This time I am using 8 shafts and have picked a draft that uses stripes in the warp to emphasise the pattern. There were two weaving options and I will use the two faced one rather than the double weave which is much thicker. The cells also are a bit too squished but it is still a very nice weave structure.

My problem now is to decide on which yarn to use to outline the cells. I am showing both sides as I used different yarn front and back.

My first choice which is at the bottom is too thick. On both sides. The second is a merino baby yarn which flows around the tight cells beautifully. I used a lighter section of the variegated yarn on the front, darker on the back. It does look very blue.

The third is a multihued wool with different colours plied together. I really like the front with the hint of green but on the back the contrast between the pink and blue is so high the pattern gets lost. This is interesting too. So I cannot decide. Do I have same front and back, or different? And which yarns?

Opinions welcome.


MoMA in Melbourne part 1

The Winter Masterpiece exhibition at NGV Victoria this year is a little bit of New York. MoMA at NGV is over 200 works and spreads over all the ground floor galleries. This means there are two entrances, so don’t lose your ticket. You also get to exit through the gift shop twice.

The layout is chronological starting with a few works from key post impressionists and moving quickly to Paris in the age of electricity. I loved seeing La Japonise: Woman beside the water by Matisse up close. The squiggles and dabs of paint, some straight out of the tube, really rocked the established art world in 1906 leading to the label les fauves, wild beasts.

I was also struck by the work of Sonia Delaunay, Portuguese market 1915. She and her husband were members of the Orphist group, who explored colour theory and optical effects.

The swirling colour takes over the scene and the orphists talked about simultaneity were no hue dominates any other. The descriptor says that Delaunay’s work in textile and clothing design contributed to her understanding of the possibilities of abstract colour.

I was interested to see works produced at the Bauhaus. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was a teacher there and experimented with photography and film. This influenced his painting process which he reimagined as an art not of pigment but of light. His Z II 1925 is an exploration intersecting abstract elements in space.

Gupta Stolzl was a weaving student at the Bauhaus who went on to become and instructor and the first woman ‘master’ at the school in 1927. Under her direction the weaving workshop went on to become one of the most experimental areas.

Wall hanging 1924. Wool, silk, mercerised cotton and metal thread

Anni Albers also trained at the Bauhaus in Germany and then went to on to become head of weaving at Black Mountain College in the United States from 1933 to 1949.

Two of her Free-hanging room dividers c 1949 use cotton, cellophane, braided horsehair and cord. They combine art making with utilitarian design, controlling both light and space.

One of the ‘big’ pictures on show is Salvador Dali’s 1931 The persistence of memory.  You come across it as soon as you enter the gallery focussed on the 30’s and post war period. I was quite shocked. It is tiny. Perhaps because it features such a broad landscape I had always thought it to be a large painting.

Seeing a Hopper was rather special too. His Gas 1940 has an amazing sense of drama. Edward Hopper is not depicting a single scene, it is a composite representing several gasoline stations.

Tapestry challenge

I thought I had missed the July exhibition at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild, but fortunately it was still up on the last day of the month when I called in to return library books. Of course I borrowed more books and even bought a second hand one too, so a good visit all round.

The Exhibition was the AuNZ Tapestry Challenge 2018 with the theme Growth. Organised by an online group of tapestry weavers the pieces had to be up to 20 cm square.

There were about twenty five tapestries on display. Many represented plant life of various forms, but there were people, bacteria, graphs, fantasy forms and abstract responses to the theme as well.

The Weaving Matters group are exhibiting in August and on Saturday 25 there is an open day where all are welcome to see a multitude of weaving techniques and have a go.IMG_0290

Sheep and Wool on show

Now that I have become a weaver of sorts, attendance at the annual Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show is almost compulsory. Not that I mind, it is a lot of fun. Made even more so by meeting up with a friend and bumping into new weaving acquaintances.

IMG_0087 It was a cold but sunny day and the forecast rain did not eventuate until the drive home.

The best of the Woolcraft wearable art was on display at the fashion parade. Mainly nuno felted or woven items. I loved the woven red coat which took a very sophisticated approach to the theme of Home Front. The weave structure incorporates red crosses and stylised poppies.

All the Woolcraft on display was interesting but behind glass. This flock of needle felted budgerigars was beautiful, but the background did not help. In one of the industry sheds Looms and Spinning Wheels were down from Sydney for the first time. Elizabeth Calnan’s stunning woven piece was made for a competition in NZ.

Lots of sheep to be seen everywhere, this merino was ready for the close up.IMG_0098

And these guys were waiting patiently for a ride of some sort, although when the leader got to the top, it didn’t seem to know how to work the controls.

I also learned a lot about fleece quality, but that doesn’t mean I am going to take up spinning any time soon.IMG_0097

Before going home I dropped in on the fringe event down the road at the Bowling ClubIMG_0109

where I saw a few interesting things.

An antique sock knitting machine. Although no leg has enough heels to wear this sock.

A system from Argentina for weaving shaped vests. Chunky wool only.

I did make quite a few yarn purchases, mainly planned ones. And I found the cutest little loom. It is Australian made, by a Mr Robinson of NSW. It is only 50 x 50 cm and 40 cm tall. It is made from beautiful wood and I love the curved levers and the pulleys for the cords to run over.IMG_0142 (1)

I would like to find out some more about it.