Saturday, 28 July 2018

Zambeesi Jacket

Here's pictures of the "Zambeesi Jacket" which will be my next pattern to publish.  I was hoping it might be finished in a week but now I'm doubting it. Monday week I'm due to have surgery on the cataract in my right eye. I wish it were tomorrow as my sight has become so challenging it's getting  harder and harder to do the work that needs to be done. I had to stop beading 2 months ago because I couldn't see well enough. I'm just coping with sewing and stenciling but its gotten to the stage I know I'm not able do it to the usual standard. Seams are getting stitched all wobbly and I have to squint to make sure my paintwork is the right colour and density. Looking at the computer screen is giving me a literal pain in the neck as I have lean forward, squint and angle my glasses with one hand to get enough visual "clarity" to read and type......

Zambeesi, knit version

Zambeesi, denim and cotton fabrics salvaged from thrift shop clothing, stenciling

Zambeesi, this jacket a mixture of knit and woven fabrics, stenciling

back of the Zambeesi Jacket

This version of the Zambeesi Jacket is made entirely from a $5 bundle of upholstery scraps I bought from a thrift shop. There is enough fabric left over that I could make 2 more!

line drawings for the Zambeesi Jacket at present I can't predict when I'll get the Zambeesi Jacket published except that if all goes well with the cataract surgery my eyesight should be vastly better by the middle of August so perhaps it will be by the end of that month.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

another upcycle

I bought a jacket for $6 from the local Vinnies 3 days ago (for overseas readers that is the "St Vincent De Paul Charity Shop". A Catholic Church business chain that resells donated clothing, furniture and household goods)

Here's pictures and some brief explanation how it was altered. I've displayed it over my dress design "Rings of Saturn", a pattern I haven't published at this point (along with 50 others....drat)

front of upcycled jacket by Pearl Red Moon 2018
Firstly, I stenciled and painted directly onto the jacket with florescent green textile paint.

I wanted to make the jacket wider in the torso because I like garments with lots of swing, so opened up the right side seam from cuff to hem with the intention of adding a triangular gusset from underarm to hem. This was quite challenging because the jacket had channels at the hem and waist for drawstrings making it very tricky and messy to unpick them.  So I decided not to open the left side and to add the width gusset only in the right side.

stenciled fabrics

The picture above shows fabrics I stenciled to cut patches to add to the jacket. The large top piece is a coarse cotton calico printed with lime yellow and black. This fabric has a coarse weave and frays very readily. Lots of the natural fabric was allowed to show through the prints. The blue below it is the same but I painted the background all blue and stenciled with red over it. The picture below here explains how I embroidered over the red print with red stitching to make it very textured. The intention was to use this piece in moderation as a highlight to break up the predominant black and green.

top of the jacket showing large patched that were applied

In the picture above you can see how I used a strip of the red blue over the top of a large patch and buttoned it down with a red button. All the stenciled patches were appliqued on with red stitching.
I also made the bead embroidered necklace.

right side


Back of the jacket showing the width gusset sewed into the right side. A number of large rectangle patches are appliqued to the back above the hem and a red/blue patch in the bottom corner. The stencil with the squares is a hand cut, so simple. Its about 6 years old and originally cut for when I stenciled the verandah floor in my house. Multiple uses heh! In between many of the squares I appliqued little square patches. The paintwork is intentionally crude as I wanted to create a sort of "graffiti" spontaneity in the finished effect.

left side, white thingy dangling off the cuff is my sales tag which I should have taken off

Left side of the jacket. A thin strip of the red/blue stencil to accentuate the cuff edge. Note the red stitching around the pocket bag on the side front and red button on the vent pocket opening.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Murdering Hut Gully

 Ive been going to Merriwa once a month since January to teach an art class for senior citizens. It's a long drive of 100kms (each way) from Murrurundi so I've enjoyed looking at the landscape and bush along the way. On my way home last week I finally stopped and took a picture of this incredibly intriguing sign. There must be a gruesome story behind that name....surely! I asked the people in my art group but no one knew why it was named that.

These amazing ancient rock formations are about 10km outside of Scone. I love caves because I can fantasize they will be full of old bones, artifacts and cave drawings. Thats not entirely far fetched as there are some very old drawings made on rock faces by the Kamilaroi (local indigenous aboriginal people) around the area.  However those places are protected and regarded as sacred by the Kamilaroi so I don't go searching for them.

These two pictures show how parched the country is. 

This road kill kangaroo was just a few feet from where I pulled off the road to take the pictures of the "Murdering Hut Gully" sign. In the rural area where I live this is a common sight. I roughly estimate on the trip last week there would have been about 10 dead kangaroos either on or off the road. I also saw 2 road killed wombats.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

R I P Eurydice Dixon

What can be said about the horror act of violence that ended the life of Eurydice Dixon....? I try to muster my thoughts to say something worthwhile, avoid the trite platitudes....

I turn to one of my favoured feminist commentators and as ever Clementine delivers a punch without the velvet glove

I've been watching the downfall of Weinstein and many of his ilk with great satisfaction. Huzzah the #MeToo movement

As for Eurydice Dixon, the town I live in is tiny so joining the nationwide vigil 2 nights ago would have been a singularly lonely tribute out in the cold and rain. So put that notice on my shopfront.

I will also share 1989 I was abducted by 3 men and raped. One claimed he had a knife (after the trial I found he was on parole for wounding his wife on the neck with a knife. A fact that couldn't be revealed during the trial) I didn't want to test that by resisting too aggressively. I managed to escape after the first man completed his assault.

The main perpetrator was caught 5 years later when stopped at the roadside for a routine alcohol test. The case went to jury trial 18 months later. The trial lasted a week and was incredibly traumatic. All the usual aspersions were made - were people drunk? what was I wearing? How high were the heels of my shoes? My underpants were displayed in court (they'd been kept for forensic testing) It was asserted I still enjoyed wearing the clothes I'd worn on the night of the rape (total lie, all my clothes had been kept for forensic testing and never returned). I won't go on. It was a horrendous experience.

The perpetrator got 3 and half years in jail and a bit more for breaking the good behaviour terms of his parole for the assault he'd done to his wife.

I wish I could say this is the only or worst violence I've experienced from men.....but, sadly, not....

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

My march for ANZAC Day

Outside my studio at the moment people are marching up the highway in uniforms and stirring bagpipe music is being played by a marching band.

I considered sticking this notice in my studio window but are too cowardly to invite confrontation and I'm busy with my art and don't want to invite (possibly aggressive) debate from those it might annoy



The mythologising of war annoys me mightily. Killing each other is a horrific not-solution to political conflict. If we need to combat each other I believe Ghandhi showed us that passive organised resistance is the way oppression can be defeated.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

blind artist

It’s been a few months since I blogged. Regular readers will know that doesn’t mean nothing much has been happening…..quite the opposite. Long spells of not blogging indicate I’m in a manic creative space and can’t spare a moment.

Over the 2 decades of my serious art making it’s easy to identify various phases I’ve moved through. The most obvious ones being cloth dolls, 2-dimensional canvas embroidery, art to wear. Sometimes within those big phases were brief side tracks - a few weeks/a couple of months investigating something a bit off the main highway and eventually I’d cycle back.

Columbine, 2003

One of my regular diversions has been mixed media adornment. Favoured media being cloth, fibres and glass beads. I think I’ve mentioned before my preference for the description adornment. Jewellery (or “jewelry” for the USAers) is just so wrong and stupid. I don’t use precious stones and metals (though I’ve been there with Precious Metal Clay. Was Australias first certified teacher in 1998), perhaps some semi precious stones on occasion. So I’ll adamantly stick to using the term adornment.

"Ava" 2013, mixed media and embroidery on canvas, 50cm x 1200cm

The new phase started in November last year and I expected it would eventually peter out and I’d return to clothing and publishing PDF patterns. By the end of February this year I realised I wasn’t going back to art to wear or publishing patterns any time in the foreseeable future. I have cycled into a new phase of art making…..

mixed media necklace by Pearl red Moon, 2017

detail of jacket by Pearl Red Moon, sashiko stitching, machine stitching, applique, work in progress 2017

I have made so much stuff in the last 4 months! My little studio shop is absolutely exploding with stuff. In the Etsy shop I have always sold way more patterns than adornments – 95% more – so I can’t be bothered to list any of the newly made adornments.

mixed media necklace, Pearl Red Moon 2018

I’ve been longing to investigate some very experimental interpretations but have had to keep compromising with what I make because the out of the box stuff just won’t sell very readily in the studio. To justify allowing myself to go there I made a proposal to the art gallery at Muswellbrook, an hours drive from where I live and where I had a shared exhibition with my husband in 2013. I’m delighted that they were happy to offer me one of the exhibition spaces for next year. Working title for the show is “Finery” and dates will be May 11 to June 26.

bead weaving necklace, Pearl Red Moon, 2018

That was the good news. After my conference with the gallery directors I floated off on my bit of cloud 9 to an appointment down the road with the optometrist. My eyesight has been driving me batshit crazy lately. When beading I often have thread the needle 10-20 times a day. This was taking several minutes and I noticed my depth perception was terrible, often missing the needle eye by centimeters. I wasn’t overly concerned though as I hadn’t updated my prescription for 3 years.

pendant, embroidery and beading, Pearl Red Moon, 2018

The consultation revealed I have a cataract developing in my left eye. It’s a relief to know as this can be corrected with surgery and hopefully before the end of this year. I comfort myself that Monet famously developed cataracts towards the end of his life and this changed his colour perception and made much of his work all the more intriguing!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

fully baked Chefs Coat

Many people commented on the transformation of the Chefs Coat. Perhaps some didn't realise those pictures shown on my blog a few days ago were only of the first few hours work on it and I intended to cover the whole surface....?

Since then I spent 2 more days working on the coat and finished it yesterday. In total the entire working time to transform this $6 thrift shop coat took about 16-18 hours.

Here's pictures and commentary on how it was done.

front of the finished Chefs Coat, buttoned up

All the fabrics appliqued to the coat were from my scrap bin or from clothes or discarded fabric lengths purchased from thrift shops, including the buttons. No new fabrics were purchased.

back of the Chefs Coat

To work on the coat the only alterations I made were cutting about 20cm(8") off the sleeve length and slitting open each underarm seam to the side seam. This allowed the sleeves to be opened out flat to apply the applique.

close up of buttoning on the front

I tossed my pile of black and white fabrics on the work table and randomly picked bits to cut squares, triangles and narrow strips of randomly sized pieces. A number pieces were then collaged onto the coat surface, pinned in place and sewed. About 8-12 pieces at a time were sewed in place. Sometimes the pieces overlapped or the underneath was allowed to show in spaces.

To applique the pieces I used a 7mm wide 3-step zigzag stitch and left the fabric patch edges raw. I like shredded, fraying edges as it adds texture and mobility to the surface. But the 3-step stitch is secure enough that the raw edges will only fray back to the stitch. In the picture above the 3-step zigzag most clearly shows around the edge of the white spot on black patch near the coat bottom. I also like the stitch to be a decorative element so would switch between black and white thread to purposely highlight it on the surface. However, on the bobbin I used only black thread throughout so the sewing on the inside of the garment is hardly visible.

opened up Chefs Coat shows how the stitching is barely visible on the inside

When the surface was about half covered with applique patches I laid the coat back out on the work table and did some stenciling over various parts, especially where there were big gaps showing the underneath fabric. I also stenciled a big strip of white cotton voile with black and cut this into small patches to be added to the surface.

stenciled patches, some of which were added to the coat

detail of buttoning at the neckline of the coat

When the fronts of the coat were nearly done I decided to cut out 2 very deep triangles down the front edge. In the style of Chefs Coats the front was double breasted so there was a very wide overlap. I saw that this offered the potential to create an interesting zigzag feature. When buttons were added it had the neat effect of allowing all sorts of combinations of closing some and leaving various bits to flap open....

the cut out zigzag front of the Chefs coat allows for all sorts of ways of closing and leaving parts to flap back...

Friday, 19 January 2018

fabric chef

Like a lot of contemporary textile artists and sewists I'm concerned for the environmental footprint and amount of resources wasted by the clothing industry. Those readers in my age group - 50 to 60s  -will be aware of the massive change in attitude women have gone through about the amount and type of clothes we own since the latter part of last century. My mother still recalls the hat, gloves and lipstick era that was de rigeur before any middle class woman left home for a public appearance, even if just to pick up a bag of spuds for dinner. I have no sentimentality moving on from the rigid formality of that time! Also, another aspect of social change is that hardly any of us are full time house wives any more!

Thrift shopping has always been part of my pleasures since I was in my mid teens way back in the 1970s. That was many years before I was a serious textile artist which changed the way I saw the clothes and fabrics to a whole different level of appreciation. In the 70s almost all the clothes came from deceased estates or from elderly women who were clearing their wardrobes. Only a very small amount of clothes were modern and they would be well worn and seasons old. You never found unworn, new clothes (often with sales tags still on) as I do all the time now.

But what a bounty it was! Fabulous tailored suits from the 1930s, 40s and 50s! Extraordinary jacquard hand knitted vests and cardigans. Genuine fur coats and stoles. My greatest find ever was an Emilio Pucci silk dress, completely hand sewed. Sadly, I had no appreciation of that garment and wore it to death over the Summer of 1977. When my son was born in 1979 I had collected a great stack of hand knitted baby clothes and sweetly embroidered and smocked cotton gowns for his newborn months. Apparently most of those women at home full time spent significant hours making, maintaining and cleaning the family clothes. Clothes were expected to last many years, if not decades or a life time.

Nowadays I have a wholly a different attitude to thrift shopping. It appalls and astounds me how the racks are full of current or last seasons clothes, barely worn, and frequently brand new unworn clothes. A few days ago a major clothing brand was advertising on TV childrens school polo shirts for sale at $1.69. Duhhhhh....!!? No wonder we have such a disposable attitude to clothes! Is the owner (mother or wife, of course) going to mend, handwash and iron that shirt for the next 5 years....? I had nightmares about that fibre being created from petroleum requiring gallons of water and electricity. Sewed in a Chinese or Pakistani sweatshop by some woman earning 2c a shirt. Shipped halfway across the world with more cost of fuel and labour. Nuts! Would I be neurotic to declare we are all going to hell in a handcart of our own making!

I'm looking out the window as I write this anticipating the heatwave warning we have gotten for the next few days. The prediction is for 3-4 days with temps 40C+. Last year was the hottest, driest year on record where I live. I'm looking with a heavy heart at my dying garden. I can't water it because we are legally restricted from using water for that. I'm allowed to use a hand watering can on Sundays between 6-8pm....

A few days ago I bought 3 garments from the local thrift shop to rejuvenate. I have a modest collection of interesting vintage fabrics and keep all my fabrics scraps so the plan was to bust them out to alter these garments.

The first project is finished. I just call it Daisy Top in reference to the several pieces of printed linen I cut from a classic 70s table cloth. This pull on top had interesting kimono sleeves that attracted me. It took about 5 hours to apply the patchwork in applique technique.

front of Daisy Top
back of Daisy Top

Yesterday I started on the next item I bought which is a brand new Chefs Coat in black cotton drill. What attracted me to this was the lovely pointed lapels. I had to cut off the massively long man length sleeves.
black cotton drill Chefs Coat, still a blank canvas

At the end of yesterday, after about 4 hours work this is the result so far....

back of Chefs Coat

detail of lower back, showing combination of applique and stenciling

detail of bottom front

bottom right front, stripey bit in the middle is a pocket taken off a mans shirt. There is a tie looped through the buttonhole and dangling down. The pocket has been stenciled.

front of Chefs Coat, with the work so far

Will show the finished result soon.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

bead fiddler

For the last month I've been making at least one pair of seed bead earrings in the evening while watching TV. In Winter I like to knit or crotchet but handling seed beads when the temps are 30C+ is much more sensible. I've also been doing a whole bunch of sashiko stitching on wearable garments but pictures of those are for a blog another day.

All these are for sale ranging between AUS$30 to $45, except for the african inspired ones which are $75.

seed bead earrings by Pearl Red Moon 2018

variety of seed besd earrings by Pearl Red Moon 2018

african inspired seed bead earrings by Pearl Red Moon 2017

variety of seed beads earrings by Pearl Red Moon 2017