Saturday 9 December 2017

the pleasure of slow stitching

Add close up of patchwork and sashiko stitching on the coat front

full front of the coat

top of the back, showing stenciling and unfinished stitching

back of the coat, the black middle section is unfinished

For the last month I've been enjoying the pleasures of slow stitching. The black and white coat in the pictures is one of the projects I've been working on. For a short time I was all excited thinking I was pioneering a new technique of combining stenciling and sashiko stitching then discovered the Japanese had covered this territory more than a hundred years ago with "Katazome"....oh well, nothing new under the Sun, as they say. 

I'm still enthusiastic to make a tutorial about my contemporary version and approach to combining stencil, boro and sashiko. Perhaps I can call it "the surface of the Moon"....?!! The traditional approach to Katazome is admirable but challenging to use in a modern context. 

I have been working on about 6 items of clothing with the intention of using them as examples in the potential future publication and will show some more soon. I'm particularly enjoying working with recycled denim. 

Heres another example....

recycled denim skirt embellished with stenciling and sashiko stitching, as yet unfinshed

Friday 17 November 2017

Upper Hunter Arts Trail this weekend

This weekend Rodney and I are opening our garden and home studio as one of the participants in the Upper Hunter Arts Trail

My art will be on display and for sale in the garden. As the weather is a bit iffy if we can't open the garden I'll just stay in my studio/gallery on the New England Highway at 71 Mayne Street.

heres some pictures of the garden....I hope you like the mosiac stepping stones, I made them just in the last month.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Sometimes I just don't know what to do....

From time to time on this blog I’ve bought up that I am a person with Aspergers.  A year ago I published a link here to a short film that was produced by Nicky Elliott about how I see the world, make my art and live my life.

As a woman nearing my 6th decade I can attest that I feel much more comfortable in the world now than when I was younger when so much more was obscure. Through often arduous processing I hope I’ve come to a better understanding of the differences between myself and neurotypical thinking.

However, there are still a lot of days to be lived when confusion runs rampant….

In my late 30s I had a lightbulb moment when I grasped that there is a secret communication that NTs share that had eluded me all my life. It is commonly known as “body language” but is much more nuanced than just muscle tension and blinking as it also takes in other aspects like tone of voice and coded language. Simultaneously I had the truly astounding realisation that NTs have good feelings about each other and enjoy talking to each other…sheeesh! who’d have thought! Life started to become a lot easier when I learned to redirect some of my internal focus to carefully assess what people around me were saying to each other and which ones had relationships they call “friends” Many NTs find it impossible to understand that I’ve never had a “friend” and are even more disbelieving to find that the whole proposition is something I regard with fear and distaste….heh, anyway we won’t go there today…

I am writing this now because of trying to cope with being upset. Going to that part of my brain where I’m focusing on language and writing, finding and composing words into a coherent text, is helping me not to collapse into the anxiety and catastrophic reactions that can badly affect some of us with Aspergers. Sometimes referred to as a “meltdown”

The internet has been a fantastic way of communicating for myself and many others on the Autistic Spectrum because we don’t have the bafflement and distraction of dealing with body language. But stuff still happens…I’ve come to understand that NTs usually try to avoid saying things that are potentially hurtful and rejecting by adept use of body language.  Sometimes I can be rather oblivious to not being in the category of populist/conventional/mainstream. One of the nicest things about Aspies is that we are very accepting of difference, in fact, often find it quite fascinating. Whereas NTs like stereotypes, feel comfort in tribalism, prefer sameness and fear “otherness”

I'm working on accepting that some Facebook groups I’m in don’t like the clothes I design and aren’t going to support me by publishing information about new designs I release. I get confused with the incongruency of being told they are happy to include me in their monthly round-up list, then 3 times in a row and 4 newly published patterns later they keep overlooking to add the patterns….

So, I’ve been casting about to find some more artsy and creative Facebook sewing groups that might find my clothing designs more appealing.

As a child I believed I had been accidentally abandoned on the wrong planet after my true parents crash landed here…..any planets out there that want to adopt me?

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Blue Mantra beading class

I can have a short attention span as I’m constantly seeking the stimulation of a new creative project. The exciting bit for me is translating the mental visualisation with my hands into material realisation. In the latter part of the realisation process there inevitably comes a point where all the problems have been solved and you are just crafting the object to finality. That stage quickly becomes tedious for me and I have to resist the desire to move on to something more intellectually stimulating. I always have a mind boggling with ideas that jostle and beg for the opportunity to get materialised so it will be no surprise that I have a substantial catalogue of projects that were abandoned before getting finished. Probably about 30-40% of the things I start don’t get completed. But I often go back, sometimes, years later, to finish things so I don’t get too despondent about this tendency.

So….in my last blog I was working on an appliqued version of the Theodora Tunic, with the idea of publishing it as a pattern and surface embellishment tutorial. I made – and finished! – 3 quite complex samples and got started writing up the step by step technique. Then tedium won over….and I was asked to create a craft class to teach at a newly opened local shop. I was enthused to jump into this new creative project....

Blue Mantra necklace by Pearl Red Moon, 2017

On the weekend local business lady Sue Stone opened her new vintage homewares shop just a few houses down from where I live. The shop is in the newly renovated Tattersalls Hotel on the corner of Adelaide and Victoria Streets, Murrurundi.

Sue asked me if I would teach classes at the shop and I’m thrilled to accept the opportunity. They have a wonderful big, light airy room dedicated for a teaching space.

There are so many things I could teach as I’m such a dilettante of multiple craft skills! However, I decided at this stage to wait and find out if theres any interest in sewing stuff at some time in the future. Right now I want to offer a beading class. It will be an introduction to Herringbone/Ndebele stitch.  Shown below is the necklace project I designed, called “Blue Mantra” necklace. Then I decided to simplify it somewhat by making the class project a bracelet instead. So students in the class will get the notes and instructions for making both a necklace and bracelet.

the closure is at metal push clasp the side of the neck
I'm still working on making the bracelet sample - YES! I WILL finish it! - and will show this soon along with more information about the class.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Theodora with applique....anyone?

Hi, dear friends and followers. I've just published this new PDF sewing pattern, "Theodora Tunic and Jacket".

cover of Theodora PDF pattern, Large size range

Depending on how much detail there is in each clothing design it takes me about 3-6 weeks full time work to write up and publish a PDF pattern. Its a highly technical process done in Adobe computer programs Illustrator and Indesign so by the end of each project I'm always hanging like a starving dog to do something creative using the other side of my brain.

The Theodora Tunic or Jacket version is a fabulous little layering piece and I was excited by the potential to make this garment in a really special and gorgeous fabric. For example - how about fake fur! But I didn't have any in my fabric stash and are an hours drive away from any fabric shops (plus we are at the end of Winter) so I brainstormed on embellishing a piece of fabric with applique and this is the result. I'm really thrilled with this fabric, it really is gorgeous!

close up of applique

The finished front of Theodora tunic with 3 colour applique

close up of applique on bodice of Theodora tunic

My dear friend and art mentor Charlotte is encouraging me to share the technique I invented for making this applique and I think there could be some merit in the idea. I'm considering 2 options - #1 publish another version of Theodora including a tutorial for the textile embellishment technique, or #2, do an interactive online class in 4 parts over a month with a group of paying participants so I can be available online to tutor people step by step through the process...? In that format I'd need at least 10 students and it would cost $45 per student. You'd get notes to print, PDF pattern, youtube tutorials and me available during the course.

The applique in my example is sewed on a machine so it's surprising fast. I cut, sewed and finished the tunic in the pictures above in 9 hours. Though it could certainly be hand stitched, a la Alabama Chanin, for those who love their fashion slow and hand made. This fabric embellishment technique can be applied to any garment, not just the Theodora tunic.

Will show some pictures of the fully finished tunic, along with some other pieces I'm working on in the next blog.

Any feedback out there.....?

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Jumpy and grumpy

The first days of September….and the wind came up yesterday. Technically Spring started at the beginning of this month and lovely seasonal bulbs are pushing out of the ground and revealing themselves….daffodils, anemones, muscari, irises. But the wind makes any stroll around the garden to enjoy the blooms too unpleasant. It is cold, whipping and turbulent. It makes me even more irritable than usual.

A few weeks ago I quietly published “Pheenie” without any fanfare announcements. It is in the Etsy and Shopify stores if anyone wants to check it out. It’s a pretty versatile dress with ¾ length sleeves that could suit hot or cold seasons depending on what type of fabric it’s made in. I’m a huge enthusiast for pockets and this design has 2 big and deep ones at the front. They aren’t just practical but also make an interesting feature the way they droop and create folds at the sides of the garment. 

Like most things I design there’s no fiddly zips or buttons – just pop it on over your head and you’re dressed for the day in 10 seconds….heh, I’m not one for extensive grooming routines or taking 15 minutes to get dressed….The last time I wore lipstick was 6 years ago on my wedding day and I had to buy that one specially because it was 20+ years since I last bothered to apply it to the visage. It’s not that I’ve “let myself go” the fact is I’ve never had myself together enough to be able to let anything go.

Duhhhh, enough being cranky, heres some pictures of Pheenie

 A couple of weeks before Pheenie I published this little top - Aurana

Currently I'm working on “Theodora”. Initially it was just going to be a tunic then I decided I really liked it as a jacket with a zip down the front. Adding this zip front option has doubled+ the amount of time to write up the pattern and adapt the PDF patterns. I hope to have it ready to publish by the middle of this month. I haven't done the cover page yet and only took these pictures only this morning. Fortunately I found the verandah and front door of my house was a sheltered spot out of the horrible wind where I could get pictures that weren't of fabric being whipped horizontal.

Theodora, lace tunic
Theodora jacket, heavy stretch denim

More about the Theodora Tunic and Jacket as I get closer to finishing it. Except this little aside, I was really tempted to call the jacket version a "jerkin". This is a really old fashioned word for a sleeveless vest type coat that opens at the centre front. I googled the word jerkin and was surprised to find it really is a hundreds of years old word. But I decided to use the description "jacket" instead and not confuse people by using that slightly odd word.....anybody out there familiar with jerkin?
Lastly, I'm going to vent about my hopelessly inchoate outrage with that megalomaniac psychopath Kim Jong Un. Its bad enough having the orange clown in charge on the other side of the Pacific. These two crazies combined are taking up way too much time bothering my peace of mind. It infuriates me how these kinds of nutbag individuals get into political power and can then threaten the wellbeing and future of our whole planet. What a sad species we are when leaders of nations control weapons that can potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people in minutes and poison the environment for hundreds of years. I really feel despair that millions of ordinary people like me - people who go about their daily lives doing seemingly insignificant tasks like going to work, preparing meals, paying bills, sending our children to school, cleaning the bathroom, grooming our pets - are the apparent "hostages" to the fragile egos of people who are obsessed primarily with staying in power. What is it about the political systems we create that absolute unhinged mongrels can rise to the top and wield that kind of power?

I hope the future brings a world govt that is organised on an algorithm that is designated to each individual person at birth that is designed to maximise every opportunity for education, health, income, home, community and comfort to be available to everyone.

I am sick of living in a world in which military might and mad despots dominate and the rest of existence just has to hope tomorrow will arrive without the rest of us being trampled in their battles.                                                                  

Friday 4 August 2017

My art at the Archibalds

The beautiful lady in this video is the remarkable Eileen Kramer. Eileen is a 103 years old dancer whose portrait was a finalist in this years Archibald Prize. For those of you outside Australia this is our county's most prestigious portraiture competition. 

I've been privileged to meet Eileen on a number of occasions when she's called into my studio. Eileen has a wonderfully artistic and eclectic appreciation of clothes, probably coming from her years as a dancer on the stage. I felt incredibly flattered when she fell in love with my hand knitted shawls and bought several of them.

Last week the 2017 winner of the Archibald Prize was announced and there was a charming TV news item about Eileen attending the prize night and posing in front of her portrait "The inner stillness of Eileen Kramer". Her portrait wasn't the winner.

But I felt like a winner because I was thrilled to see Eileen was wearing one of the shawls I made! She looked gorgeous in the stunning mauve and blue fluffy and fringed knitted shawl. I usually make a batch of these shawls every Winter because it's just so enjoyable to sit in front of the fire in the evening with fat knitting needles and make a triangle shawl in 3-4 hours. Most of the yarns I used I buy from the local thrift store for a few cents each. Odd balls of yarn, colour mixed and matched are just the perfect thing. Sometimes I get the spinning wheel out and twine several of the thin ones together, or add in a bit of dyed roving to make unique fiber.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Sewed my finger

Get Stitched - my textile art ezine - was sent out yesterday with a great flourish....TAH-DAH!!!!
But whoopsie, I raced down that last seam of the hem....I put the needle though my finger...OUCH!!!

I'm apologising here for having included some discount codes to buy patterns in my Etsy shop that didn't work. It was wonderful and flattering that so many of you wanted to take up the offer and I was then mortified you were disappointed. This has become an embarrassing lesson about the importance - and necessity! - of testing these things first.

After a few hours of meltdown...with the love, patience and forbearance of my saintly husband...I'm glad to be able to announce that the codes are now fixed up and triple tested!

For a 90% discount on the Aurana Top, until August 11th, enter this at checkout


For a 20% discount on End Point, Medium sizes, or End Point, Large sizes, until August 15th, enter this at checkout


Now I have a band aid on my finger and will retire for the rest of the day to nurse the injury!

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Get Stitched together....

Its been exciting to see over 100 of you take the free Aurana Top pattern in the last couple of days. I look forward to pictures of your makes filling my inbox!

The link is gone today….😭 ….but please don’t be disappointed if you want the pattern. By the end of this month – July 2017 – I’ll be publishing a new edition of my revived ezine “Get Stitched”. Included in the fantastic items exploding from the newsletter will be a voucher to purchase the Aurana Top in my Etsy shop for $1. You can only use the voucher once and it will expire after 10th August so if you’re not already a subscriber all you need do is fill in the subscribe link on the right side bar of this blog. It is a monthly publication so you won’t be lambasted with emails.

I’m writing Get Stitched because I want to share all sorts of great information and links to keep you inspired as a sewist and textile artist. It will be chock full of sewing tips rounded up from the internet and ideas for textile art techniques, pictures of art to wear and adornments. We all lead busy lives and want to spend as much of our leisure time as possible imagining and creating things with our hands. So I hope Get Stitched will be a resource you can go to that is a collection of gems you can dive into and use to enrich your creativity.

Monday 24 July 2017

Gifts in July

Yippee! The Aurana Top pattern is up, running and published....and I'm GIVING IT AWAY FREE for a short time on this blog. Only for a few days then the link will be gone. I'm delighted to offer this gift to the loyal blog readers who follow me and as a thank you to those who've taken the time to give me comments and feedback now and then.

UPDATE!The link for the free Aurana Top pattern has expired as of 26/07/2017. If you subscribe to my newsletter "Get Stitched" you'll receive a voucher that entitles you to purchase it for $1, up until August 10th, 2017. The subscribe link is at the top right side bar of this blog.

Heres pictures of Aurana

Aurana in knit
Aurana in printed muslin, with french seams on outside
Aurana in cotton muslin
a special version of Aurana with art textile embellishment

cover page of Aurana Top PDF pattern

With this completed I'm looking forward to spending the next few days writing the soon to be revived "Get Stitched" newsletter. I have some really exciting ideas to share in that! The subscribe link has been restored to the top of the side bar if you want to get in on the buzz.

All going well with that it should be ready to hit the interwebs by the end of this week and then the next task will be return to publish that fabulous dress "Pheenie" that I blogged about a few weeks ago.....

Tuesday 18 July 2017

consistently me, regardless....

I was looking at 3 of my pictures hanging in a row on our parlour wall a few weeks ago. The one on the far right is from 1985 and one of the earliest of my artworks I’ve kept. The one in the middle is a petit point embroidery completed in 1996 (from a vintage printed canvas, not my original art) and the one on the left is a collaborative work done with my husband in 2012 (Rodney did the face, and the surrounding decorative work is a combination of painting, stenciling, applique and embroidery) I was struck at the consistency of the aesthetic linking them over 30 years+. Most people would observe the pictures to left and right have similarity but I also see it with the embroidery….

art on the wall in my parlour - doll on the mantelpiece to the right is from 1995, Petrouchka
"All the grey people", 1985, gouache on paper, by Pearl Red Moon

"Queen of Byzantia", 2012, mixed media. Rodney Swansborough and Pearl Red Moon.

Sometimes it’s interesting to reflect on ones journey as an artist and see the way a deeply unconscious, internalised aesthetic gives a lifetimes body of work visual consistency. Even people who know hardly anything about art, if they were presented with 10 pictures each by 10 artists, could probably pretty credibly group the collections of 10 together.

the large cushion is a wool tapestry worked by me. Inspired from an illustration in a Kaffee Fassett book and drawn directly onto 70x70cm canvas.

I’ve been wondering about this because I often feel compelled to engage in that thing described as “marketing” as I always need to sell more patterns or adornments from my internet shops. One of the principles marketing advice encourages is to create a consistent style aesthetic in which to present your product. Looking around at lots of internet stores apparently the contemporary “look” is PALE, PALE, PALE. Clothes in shades of white, beige, grey or pastels worn by models presented on whitewashed backgrounds. Not just clothes, but homewares, jewellery, etc….To me, it is all so bleached, limpid and clinical. As an artist I’m bemused and dismissive of all that but as a potential “marketer” I’m dismayed! This is totally antithetical to my innate inclination as an artist.

This Pearl Red Moon logo is all wrong to attract customers in 2017

The upshot is – I have no intention of compromising my internal aesthetic for the sake of marketing. I’ll continue to use brightly coloured and non-consistent images in my internet stores. In the end, I know all that “branding” consistency arises from contemporary fads that are continually evolving. One day, maybe in a few decades, it will roll around again to florid, colourful chaos and people will say “gee, you were ahead of the times”….when the truth is, I have always been like that and can never change!

Wednesday 12 July 2017

all good news here, except for the chook....

Some things to report...

Firstly, I'm gazing out the window and seeing my pet rooster, Roger, happily munching on broccoli growing in the vege garden...sigh, now I know what inspired the insult "featherhead" in stupid. I have tried to explain to him that that kind of behaviour will expedite his journey to becoming chicken pot pie....

teasing Roger, he wants the wheat sprinkled on my work in progress, but he's wary of that strange tablecloth!

Secondly, and "second" is appropriate here, because I've just been notified of the thrilling news that my entry in the Australian Sewing Guild competition "Castaway to Couture" has been judged second prize winner. Yippee! $250 voucher to spend on fabric. Thanks to all those who voted for me online.

my Castaway to Couture entry

My third announcement is that after a 2 year hiatus I'm going to be regenerating the newsletter I started publishing a couple of years ago. I'm presently doing a fabulous online course which is teaching me how I can be friends with Mailchimp instead of wanting to kill it.....horribly....
I really look forward to this as I'm always brimming over with enthusiasms and creative ideas I'd love to share with other women who have an avant garde sense of personal style. When it gets closer to the time I'm ready to send it out I'll restore the joining up button on the side bar of this blog and let you know what will be coming up.

One special thing I'll offer to newsletter subscribers will be my new pattern, Aurana. This pattern will be $1 for a week using the special voucher.....

Pearl Red Moon, new PDF sewing pattern "Aurana"

And shortly after the publication of Aurana this new dress - "Pheenie" will be in the shop.

two versions of PDF pattern Pheenie

sample of dress Pheenie in black and white
Lastly, I know many people have been excitedly waiting for the publication of the Marama Jacket. I am still working on it, I just had to take a break from it for a while as the whole thing was getting too intense and I was in an obsessive spiral. It will definitely happen before the end of this year.

Sunday 25 June 2017

special commission garment

 A few weeks ago I was commissioned to make a garment for one of Australias most well known textile art patrons. My friend had seen pieces of felt and nuno cloth laid out on my work table that I'd made in a workshop a few years ago with Catherine O'Leary and asked if I would use them to make a garment she wanted to gift to her friend Janet de Boer. Janet is one of Australia most high profile personalities in the textile art scene so I felt a bit daunted.....but one is seldom in a position to knock back an opportunity for an open ended commission that will be rewarded with cash payment!

BTW, Janet de Boer was the founder and editor of the magazine "Textile Fibre Forum" and convener of numerous art retreats around Australia for decades. I can't even begin to list her numerous achievements and accolades in the textile arts, except to mention she has been recognised with an Order of Australia (OAM) award....

front of Janets coat


button detail
 So, shown above is the finished jacket created to fulfill the commission. It includes not only some of the felt and nuno pieces Charlotte saw, but is almost a sampler for every fabric embellishment technique I know....stenciling, applique, sashiko stitching, applied machine embroidery stitches, fragments of crotcheting and knitting...

I hope Janet likes it....what do my readers think? Would you wear a coat like this? Would you enjoy to make a coat like this?