December 2014

December 18, 2014

It’s an early blog this month. It seemed appropriate to post at the end of the era of the weaving workshop rather than the end of the month.

I quite often start off by contemplating what has happened in a month and say “It has been a very busy month”. Well this “month” has exceeded all expectations. It has been a remarkable couple of weeks. It has been a time for finishing projects, another indigo play day, a celebration of weaving, and farewells.

In amongst all of these activities, there had been many visitors revisiting the studio. Many people have expressed their disbelief and sorrow at what is about to happen. The following is a letter provided to me by Julia Charles. You may remember her from last month’s blog as the granddaughter of Betty Charles who had donated the big rug loom. She expresses a point of view shared by many.

Like anyone who has a close connection to Sturt I love the place, the culture and environment. My grandmother was pivotal in introducing me to Sturt. She boarded at Frensham. She loved Miss West and considered her a dear and lifelong friend. She served on the council. She would take me to visit Sturt every time I visited her on her farm. She donated the large loom in the Weaving Workshop after bringing it back from Leeds in the UK after the war. I am a graduate from the Wood a School. I went on with two fellow graduates to found Splinter Workshop. I teach Applied Object Design at the UNSW College of Fine Art. My subject is popular and the students love taking their designs from concept through to construction. They love making. The process and materials are integral to the creation of the object. There is new leadership at COFA and electives are being slashed. An emphasis is being placed on digital design and digital media. Students are not happy. People will not cherish 3D printed objects, handed down by their grandparents in decades to come. There must be serious thought given to whether it is wise to do things just because we can. It is important to embrace and explore new technology but we need to be careful about doing that at the expense of traditional skills which are so highly valued, especially the rarer they become. I was so sad to learn on the weekend at the Wood School Graduate Exhibition that Sturt is following this same trend. They are sacrificing the Weaving Workshop and Cafe in favour of a digital design lab. I feel that this is a very sad ‘development’. It is very short sighted and fails to recognize the inherent and rare value of what Sturt has to offer. It is completely unique. Once lost, this extraordinary space will not be easily restored. It feels like there is a failure to recognize the extraordinary facility, wealth of knowledge and skills which are so special and are not being valued. I’m not sure how much funding has been poured into the new Swimming Pool. I imagine it would be possible to raise funds to build a digital design lab without sacrificing the more traditional crafts. It doesn’t have to be either or surely. I would be happy for this message to be passed on to the Director, the Principal and the Board of Governors. I am writing to express my concern about the loss of this great facility which I feel is not in the best interests of the Sturt creative community. Warm regards, Julia Charles

The students in this term completed an amazing amount of work. I am so very proud of their endeavours. As well as finishing off individual projects (and some were finished before this last month), there have been on- going student challenges. Students were finishing projects right up to the very last day. We certainly made full use of this last term. I’ll include these chronologically to give a sense of how things developed.

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Belinda has woven a sample of woven warp shibori. She used the opportunity to explore the basic concept of woven shibori as well as producing something for the proposed indigo bath.

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Maureen had discussed the design for this project and dyed the yarn at Sturt and then wove it at home on her 24 shaft Toika using her own hand spun alpaca on a silk warp. The colour variation in warp and weft came about because of the different rates the fibres accepted dye.

P1050237Hot off the loom at Sturt; Maureen completed a floor rug in “honeycomb”.

P1050239As with all projects we all gather around to celebrate another completed project. The warp ends have been tucked under to give a sense of how it will appear when completed.

P1050240Barb cuts off the first section of the warp of 5 napkins.  She decided to cut off at this point because she was concerned about not having enough time to finish the warp. This was the second last class and only one week to go.

There have been three main challenges that most students took advantage of and two last minute ones that some squeezed in.

The challenges are designed to encourage students to develop design skills and strategies. Many beginner/intermediate students are not comfortable designing their own projects while the more experienced enjoyed a different design approach. They involve me issuing design parameters and threading the loom and then the students wove their design. Apart from the parameters there were no rules. In this way a great variety was achieved enabling everyone to see great diversity in colour and pattern.

Challenge #2. Number 1 had been completed a month ago. The parameters for #2 was to explore stripes, checks and anything in between. To explore colour choosing yarn from the box. In addition they may choose to explore supplementary weft pattern (overshot style) either building up pattern as they wove or selecting one from Davidson. The pattern threaded was “Rose Valley” with each repeat coinciding with a warp stripe. This was a 4 shaft challenge. It started off on the last donated countermarche loom but due to Bev’s desire to weave a wide rug, the warp was moved to a 4 shaft jack.

P1050231Isobel has the honour of cutting off this student challenge. She examines the effects she had woven.

P1050262Most wove the challenge. Others felt they had to concentrate on finishing their own project. All appreciated the diversity of colour effects and design potential. Weaving tea towels means that the sample is something useful they go home with. It’s also possible to do one in a day.

Challenge #3. Identify a grid 8 squares wide x 8 to 30 squares long. No vertical or horizontal row should be greater than 3 either coloured in or left blank. A diagonal line of some description was desirable though it needed run 45 degrees from corner to corner. I had wound the warp in red and white stripes with one section of alternating colours. The loom was threaded in a straight twill for the red bands and point for the white. They wove on what is for many a favourite loom: Marjorie Ey’s donated 8 shaft mechanical dobby and were able to go back and forwards at will. They like the fact that once pegged they don’t have to think of what they are doing and just weave. They also accept the fact that there are limitations in that a design cannot be easily changed on this loom. It’s fun to just “do” though.

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Tuesday was last to weave so she gets to be first to examine what was woven.

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The finished tea towels with the drafts that students had developed.

Challenge #4. This was the first warp woven on the “Faulkner” loom. (see last month’s post) The parameter was to identify a column 8 squares high. As usual there was to be no squares coloured or left blank greater than 3. This was then the starting point for developing a twill line. Students had to tie up the treadles using this for treadle #1. The sequence was to move back one for each progressive treadle. I had threaded the loom with a variety of 8 shaft twill sequences: straight, broken, advancing, extended, point, Ms & Ws etc. Again they could go forward and backward at will.

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As the first tea towel was woven and pattern emerged there was some discussion that they wanted to get pattern too. It was with great delight that they realised that all tie ups would give all this pattern and that everyone was different.

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Not a bad effort in just over 2 weeks of weaving.

I couldn’t resist a last play in an indigo dye bath. And play it was…..

P1050242First there was a collection of shibori prepared fabric.

P1050243Some of the pieces as they were removed. Many were left tied up for 24 hours before undoing. I prefer to leave them as I believe that better results are achieved.

P1050245John, the 3 month resident potter from the UK had dunked some pots. He then thought to sand back the indigo on the ridges to get a defined pattern. When dyeing both pottery and wood the magic of indigo where it turns from green to blue does not happen. Rather the indigo stains these materials.

P1050248John contemplates what is going on in the dye bath with his collection of pots in the foreground.

P1050246What’s in the dye bath now? A piece of wood and a small ceramic pot floats on the surface.

P1050249A collection of small porcelain bowls. At the top was the one that had been floating, then others that had been dunked and others with indigo still in them. There’s also a beautiful indigo circle on the piece of wood.

P1050251Isobel holds a wooden bowl to achieve a partly coloured effect.

P1050252A well of indigo. The question is: How will she get it out without dribbling it across the top? The careful use of a straw was the answer.

P1050265A day later I saw these results from Belinda. Underneath is her woven shibori sample.

The Sunday before the last week was marked by a “Celebration of Weaving”. It was not a wake but rather an opportunity for weavers past and present to get together and remember weaving achievements and celebrate friendships made. A few couldn’t make it on the Sunday so came on Saturday. Saturday was also the last class for that group though the majority came only on Sunday.

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Melanie Olde (second from right) was a previous tutor and long term resident weaver. Gill, a past student gets to weave on the prototype. Challenge #5 was set up both as a challenge for students and a means of providing visitors with the opportunity to weave on the loom that was developed at Sturt.

Challenge #5. The loom was threaded with two blocks of 4 shaft twills as stripes. Weavers could choose to weave as tabby or 1/3, 3/1 twill blocks in any configuration and in any colour way. This warp went on with less than 2 weeks to go. A mug rug meant a very fast project and with the opportunity for many to weave.

Then Sunday arrived. I wondered how many people would come. I was delighted with how many did throughout the day. The studio played host between 10.00 and 3.00 with some staying just a short while and others stayed most of the day. Many brought a plate of food to share. It was also the last day of the cafe so we took full advantage of the coffee. It was also the last opportunity for weaving to be finished for some. Here are some images as the day progressed.

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P1050272And some chose to weave challenge #5: visitors and students.

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Elizabeth Nagel wove and taught here for 50 years. She read out a report on a “friendship quilt” that was completed by a group one year. Some of those were known to those present. The story of its progress was universal: who was going to weave what, colours, sizes that varied and how weavers chose to put their quilts together.

P1050273Monique Van Nieuwland (third from left) also taught and was artist in residence. Our stints often followed. It was very pleasing that all tutors who spent a significant amount of time here were able to attend.

P1050277Bronwyn is on a mission to finish. It’s her very last day.

P1050283And does.

P1050278Sari (right), the last student resident makes it late in the day. The party still continues.

P1050279Libby Turner reflects on Sturt and its history. While she only came to the weaving workshop in the last 15 – 10 years she has had a long association with Sturt. She has slept in the cottage when Winifred West was living there. Her mother was great friends with her. She knew the people from those earlier years and spent much of her formative years here. Of recent times she has attended the tapestry weaving class. Those are some of her tapestries on the wall.

It was a grand day!

Then the last Tuesday Class came. They wove and they celebrated.

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There were the challenges to be collected. On the right are some of Challenge #5. I couldn’t resist a final challenge. Challenge #6 happened with barely a week out. As well as being a challenge in colour (That lime green and orange was designed to be a challenge in its own right), students could design with in  a 24 x 24 grid. Maureen got to weave her coaster, for the rest I wove their designs.

P1050286Barb did manage to weave another two napkins.

P1050287Bev finished her throw.

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P1050290Belinda finishes off her challenge # 4.

P1050294And also cuts off her scarf from the left over black warp of the Winter School.

P1050297Bev also finishes off her brown and cream scarf. She’d had two projects on the go at the same time. The scarf was started while she waited for wool for he larger project to arrive. By having patterned areas combined with space she was able to weave this quickly, even though it was on an 8 shaft table loom.

P1050298Tuesday cuts off another project on one of those left over black warps. I’m pleased to say that all left over warps got used. Students took advantage of not having to thread looms in the context of time constraints.

P1050299Tuesday wove this Saori style with bands of twill and clasped weft.

P1050301Last month I mentioned that it was my intent to weave a number of loom bench rugs. In the midst of all the social catching up and saying goodbye occasions (and there were quite a few) I did manage to get 3 woven. I was the last person to weave on Tinkerbell. I hope at some stage this grand old loom will find a home hopefully at Sturt somewhere. It also will be dismantled.

P1050303In the foreground is my souvenir of Sturt, the to scale replica of the Sturt Community Rugs of twelve months ago.

At the “Celebration of Weaving” I found out the history of another loom. Unfortunately not all looms have plaques. This is the oldest loom at Sturt. Ruth Ainsworth who was a friend to Winifred West (she established Sturt) went to England to learn to weave. She brought back with her a European loom and a potter’s wheel. Elizabeth Nagel showed this photo of the loom on Sunday and presented me with the book. The book contains early images of Sturt: spinning, dyeing (our indigo day was in the same place), weaving, “carpentry”, flowers and children’s library, all in this building that houses the weaving workshop and cafe. I was very pleased to note that Maureen had just completed her rug on this loom, in some way completing a cycle.

P1050304Not a very good image I’m afraid but the image in the book was very faded and grainy.

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It seemed appropriate to take the final photo of the Tuesday class with this loom. L to R: Tuesday, Bev, Belinda, Maureen and Isobel. Barb had already left before I remembered this photo opportunity. Unfortunately I did not get an image of the Saturday class consisting of Tuesday (no wonder she got so much woven), Helen, Maggie, Bronwyn, Ruth.

And then it was time to pack. Five of my looms needed to be dismantled for the move home.

P1050305Four bundles of sticks and one to go.

P1050306And then there were none, just those that the maintenance guys have to dismantle. The other room has many as can be seen in the celebration images.  Six have been identified to go into accessible storage for events like the Summer School while others will go into more permanent storage. The six looms that I have identified will make a great core group for if/when ever weaving can be made available.

The drive home enabled me to reflect on my time at Sturt. I certainly leave with mixed emotions. Here are my final thoughts.

I have been there for two years and had completed two – three month residences before that. Sturt has provided a remarkable experience. It is a very creative environment. I have enjoyed creating my own work in that historic of all buildings. I have certainly enjoyed passing on knowledge to students and watching them grow as weavers. And as a bonus they have become valued friends. My time at Sturt would have no meaning without them. I have been challenged by the space and often working with very old and initially poorly functioning looms. I have accepted that challenge and with a sense of achievement know that I made a difference. The students certainly expressed their appreciation. There were new looms and some of my own which made a difference. I had the privilege of working with Doug Rosemont in developing a new loom and who could forget my delight and honour of having it named after me. This would not have happened if I hadn’t been there. I value the exchange between workshops, the swapping of ideas, the creative energy, the friendships. I have had the opportunity to spend time with other tutors, students and residents; seeing what they do, sharing, swapping stories. For those of us who live on site, there has been many a night getting together over a meal and a glass of wine and it has been a wonderful time just getting to know fellow artists, all of us working in our own medium but often facing the same challenges. I have enjoyed getting to know the staff and working with them. There have been many others who I have known though Sturt and their friendship I also value. So I celebrate my time at Sturt.

But it is with some regret that I leave. It is the people who count. I feel mostly for the students. The weaving community will be poorer for this loss of facility. Students at Frensham will also be poorer for this loss of opportunity. Sturt as an entity has just lost a quarter of its family. Hopefully weaving will continue in some form. I know that Mark as Head of Sturt intends to try to make it happen. I feel for the loss of the cafe and the impact it will have on the community that is Sturt. I hope that other workshops survive and worry for the future of Sturt. The addition of a digital lab I hope will prove a valued asset across all workshops and not just Frensham. Weaving can also take advantage of this technology if it has a presence.

In this era of having “hands on” classes eliminated from educational institutions, I also reflect on the future of weaving in particular. Weaving is not just something that was in the past. It has value in this digital age too. There are computer assist and jacquard looms, both one could suggest use current technology. However there is also value in weaving simple cloth using the most basic of technology. There is weaving for the professional and weaving for a hobbyist, for young and for old, for the able and disabled. There is weaving that stimulates thought and promotes the sense of creativity and achievement by what is made. In this fast paced age, it provides balance. It also promotes community. So the loss of the facility at Sturt is disappointing. But as Isobel says when we were sitting around the table at the last day of weaving “We have to make and keep on making. It is up to all of us.” For that group, there is a development that may ensure that they continue to weave together, as well as individually. That is something that they want and a positive outcome. And I will certainly continue to make and share knowledge.

So on this last post on the “Sturt Weaving Workshop”, I celebrate all the Sturt has stood for, wish all of the Sturt community the very best in their creative endeavours. To the weavers I say in particular a heart-felt thank you. It has been a pleasure working with you and being part of your lives. No doubt our paths will continue to cross.

bookmark (193 x 600)To mark my time at Sturt and to present as gifts I wove this series of bookmarks. The colour is that of the sign on the Weaving Workshop. I did consider adding dates, but what dates? Should it be the date that weaving first began at Sturt: 1941 or when the formal workshop was begun: 1951? Should I put 2014 as the ending date. It is the end of the workshop building but I sincerely hope it is not the end of weaving all together.

sturt 2012 (600 x 450)It could be Sturt Waving Workshop as of last week. In reality this photo was taken in 2012. How time has flown! Best wishes Sturt for your continuing growth and prosperity.


November 2014

November 29, 2014

Sturt Weaving Workshop is not just a place where weaving happens but it is also a community. On some days when there are no formal classes, the doors are open and all manner of interesting people come in. There are of course weavers working from all three groups (shaft weavers and tapestry), and then there are the visitors: some who are just plain inquisitive about “what is going on in there”, some who came when they were students at Frensham, some who have relatives who wove either here or in another place or time and some who have extra special stories to tell. Sometimes I sit back, look at all the activity on these days and am content. It feels great!

So this month there’s stories on some visitors, our student resident, weaving (both projects and challenges) and a great honour.

At the start of the month we had a visit from Margaret and some family. Margaret wrote the delightful letter following the announcement of the changes that are about to happen (September) She brought along Christopher, now not so young, who had woven here under Elizabeth Nagel. When he came in he made a bee line for the big rug loom out the back studio. What stories were told! For us who were here, it was a real treat.

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Christopher and the loom he used to weave on.

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This helping hand provided by the husband of Barb highlighted the community spirit that makes up the weaving workshop. Barb rejoined for the last part of the term. She was concerned that she wouldn’t get her ideal project completed so she brought along her husband to lend a hand. Threading of a series of wide napkins (serviettes) was done in no time.

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Last weekend we had a visitor. Julia Charles walked in and said that her grandmother had donated a loom. I said that unless it had a plaque, it would be difficult to trace. Luckily the loom had a plaque. (I insist on all looms that are donated to the studio have a plaque.) It was the big rug loom! Betty Charles had given the loom in 1959. What a delight to meet her grand daughter.

P1050223The plaque.

It was time this month for the annual visit from Year 10 Frensham girls. Each year the year 10’s come across, are divided into groups and spend a lovely time creating. The girls had the opportunity to work with clay, make books, work in the jewellery workshop and of course in the weaving workshop. I had a maximum number of 12. The girls made purses and bags to “hold treasures”. They started with some tie dye and then all did some card weaving and then had the opportunity to weave on table looms and a brief 20 minute stint on a floor loom. This is what was produced. Many of the bags are lined using the dyed fabric. I was delighted with their efforts. We had fun!

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An impressive collection of bags produced by the year 10’s; and they are not all there!

We’ve had a student resident weaver. Sari came for 6 weeks but had such a lovely time; she asked if she could have an extra week. During that time she produced a large quantity of work, focussing on felted woven scarves. It was a steep learning curve as she had to learn that not all wool felts by experience. She soon became accustomed to testing first to see if the yarn she was going to use would. It is very sad to contemplate that she will be the last resident weaver under the current format of the weaving workshop. But what an experience for her! The weavers also enjoyed having her around.

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Sari weaving on my 8 shaft jack loom and with  her collection (below)

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Tuesday finishes another warp: this time a scarf in lace weave. She explored a number of different patterns from the one threading.

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She proudly showed the finished scarf.

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Ruth played with colour. The warp is widely spaced, allowing for weft colour to dominate.

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Belinda cut her colour study from the loom. She also explored various threading on this warp.

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Tuesday wove another warp. This time it was a scarf using loopy mohair.

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Maggie (second from Left) wove a length using strips of old shirts. The coloured warp added great interest to the overall effect. There is much discussion on the end use of the series she has been working on.

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There will be another indigo day before the end of term. Belinda finishes a short warp exploring warp shibori. It is now pulled up ready to go.

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Isabel is the last person to weave on a group challenge. She has the honour of cutting off. These will be another series of tea towels. More about this will be on next month’s blog.

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I have decided that I’ll mark the end of my term by weaving a series of “loom bench floor rugs”. The first was a scaled reproduction of the community rugs from last year. I thought that it could be a souvenir of my time here. There’s potential for possibly 4 rugs but whether I get all done will depend on how much I am diverted from the project by other things that happen.

Last year, Doug Rosemond made a loom for the graduating wood student’s exhibition. He was one of the year long certificate course students. There was collaboration between us to achieve what is a beautiful loom. It is a joy to weave on. Currently there are 3 of these in the workshop. I have the original prototype. Belinda, one of the students, acquired one and has been weaving on it here. Then last month Friends of Sturt acquired one. It is currently being used for another group challenge. I wanted all students to have the opportunity to enjoy the experience of weaving on it before the end of year. I have been asking Doug to put his plaque on them. He came to see what this year’s graduates have produced and he arrived with his plaques.

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Isabel supervises putting them on.

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I am speechless, feeling very honoured and delighted by what he has put on them. It is not every day that one has a loom named after them. I know that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved in this project. Right from the start of my 2 year term, it was my hope that through collaboration with the wood workshop, a loom could be developed. I saw it as a way of updating the very old and mostly inefficient collection of looms that were in the workshop. I saw it also as representing the ethos and vision of Winifred West, the person who set up Sturt. I am very pleased that Doug also had that vision and made it possible. It could not have happen without us being here at Sturt. It is the interaction between workshops that can sometimes make this an exciting place. I am delighted that he has on-going orders for more. Phone Doug on 0419493081. By the way I am very happy to promote these looms and have absolutely no financial benefit in doing so.

I have just heard from Mundaring Art Centre in Western Australia that Exposition continues to have great reviews. This is a group exhibition in which I am involved that stated in Warwick then went to Redlands Museum, both in Queensland. There is an online gallery that may be of interest. http://www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/online-gallery-exposition-2014


October 2014

November 2, 2014

Sometimes when I review a month, I just think that what has happened at the start of the month seems a very long time ago. This is one of those months when I really can’t believe that all this has happened in just one month. I will follow events chronologically.

I had just been back to Sturt when a couple of days later, that announcement was made (see previous 2 blogs). Then at the end of the week I was flying back to Brisbane and the opening of Exposition at the Redlands Museum. This is the exhibition that had been at Warwick a couple of months ago. It is always interesting to see how any exhibition sits in another space. This time it had a rather intimate feel. Its next showing will be at Mundaring Arts Centre in Western Australia, 14 November – 21 December.

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Then back to Sturt. Helen has a major accomplishment on finishing weaving a very large floor rug.

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Ruth has the honour of cutting off the Group challenge woven on an eight shaft mechanical dobby. She completed the last tea towel. Each student had the opportunity to weave  one and in some cases two tea towels within the same given set of guidelines. The warp consisted of green, olive and tan threaded randomly. When students were given the challenge, no reference was made to the threading which by the way was straight twill. The important focus is on getting students to design. A colouring in exercise is a “soft” way to achieve this. There is no “right” or “wrong”. A vast array of designs was achieved, even to someone’s surprise some double weave.

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The long length of tea towels hot from the loom.

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The tea towels are on display in the weave studio along with the challenge. Eventually I hope to have each student’s draft attached to their tea towel.

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Tuesday has sewn her poncho which she complete weaving on the previous month’s blog.

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Maureen has finished her wall hanging. This was designed at Sturt but woven at home on her new 24 shaft computer assist Toika. It combines double weave, shadow weave and broken twill in silk and hand spun alpaca.

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Barb’s series of large table napkins come off the loom.

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Then there was the trip to Darwin and the opening of my solo exhibition, Panoply. Here are some images of how the work appears. The staff of Framed did an amazing job of hanging the exhibition. No effort was spared to achieve the effect I wanted. I am delighted with the response to date. Eventually and hopefully by the end of this month, I will put full details on my web site. The focus for this exhibition is on wearables: garments, yardage, wraps and scarves.

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And on the very last day of the month, Sturt took delivery of a new 8 shaft jack loom. This is another of those looms made by Doug Rosemond (at left) from the prototype developed in last year’s certificate wood course. It has been on order for a while and has arrived with 6 weeks to go till the end of term. I am determined to enable every student to weave on this beautiful loom. Another design challenge is on and ready to go. Currently there are 3 challenges underway on different looms. I have promised that we will maximise these next 6 weeks. This loom is certainly a cause for celebration.

 

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Sturt: the end of an era

October 8, 2014

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The building housing Sturt weaving and café.

Here is some background first.

Sturt was established in 1941 in Mittagong, NSW by Winifred West. It is a centre of excellence for contemporary crafts and is privately owned by Winifred West Schools. It has 4 studios, weaving being the oldest. The others are wood, ceramics and jewellery. All studios run term classes and short courses. The wood school has a year- long accredited certificate course. Sturt also hosts winter and summer schools. There is also a gallery, cafe, all set in historic gardens. For those who have followed my blog, you will have often seen snapshots of the garden. Sturt is regarded as one of the major attractions of the Southern Highlands and has won several tourism awards. For more details go to the web site: http://www.sturt.nsw.edu.au

Today Julie Gillick, Head of Frensham and the Winifred West Schools announced the following:

Re: Sturt 2015 and beyond

Following an exhaustive review lasting over 18 months, Sturt is poised to embark upon some exciting new directions for the future. Building on what we do really well and recognizing that some things needs to change: we will close the Café at the end of the current term and will be suspending the operations of the weaving studio for 2015 in order to create new flexible workshop spaces and to embrace new technology opportunities to provide enhanced design and fabrication opportunities for all. Sturt Summer and Winter School, short courses, and the shop and gallery will continue as normal with an added coffee component that we hope to be able to announce details about very soon.

I have been here at Sturt for nearly 2 years as artist in residence in charge of the studio. Before that I have had two 3 month residencies in 2009 and 2012. I appreciate the creative spirit of Sturt, the interaction between studios, other craftspeople, artists in residence and staff. I have enjoyed their company, the energy, the working towards a common goal, that of creative endeavour. I have enjoyed my time working in the studio, researching, developing concepts and ideas, refining technique, producing. I have also enjoyed teaching students who have also become friends. From a professional point of view, watching, guiding and encouraging the learning of skill and technical knowledge is a wonderful experience. I have had many students pass through the studio maybe for just one term, some for several or in many cases they have been on this journey with me since 2009. They have appeared in my blog. You may also have watched their progress. I am proud to have been a part of their life at Sturt. While I have not been involved in the teaching of the weekly tapestry class, I have also enjoyed their company and watched their progress. I am also proud of the improvements I have had in the organisation and running of the studio. There are new looms which have enabled greater productivity and flexibility and diversity in learning outcomes. Many of you will have been reading of my journey here. It has been amazing, stimulating and very satisfying.

It was with deep regret that I was informed of this impending decision. There are so few places where weaving can be learnt in a fully practical experience. Sturt has had a long and proud history of delivering quality weaving classes. My students are devastated on several fronts. Firstly there is the knowledge that weaving as they know it will soon be coming to an end. There will be no more weekly classes. There will be no more sharing of their achievements in producing an end product, the stimulation of discussion, the groans of something done not quite right, the laughter of shared experiences under the current format. There is also the impact of the loss of meeting place. This is where they have met each week, sharing their highs and lows of life in general. No matter what their backgrounds, all have met and enjoyed each other’s company. This is a special place. They also recognise their place in the greater community.

It is recognised that the looms will be mothballed for a year while the decision is made as to the future direction of Sturt. At least the door to the future has not totally been shut.

It is exciting that Sturt potentially will be taking on “new age technologies”, disappointing though it is at the hopefully temporary loss of weaving. Maybe in a year’s time, a way will become clear to have it re-instated in some format. It is my earnest desire that this be so. Hopefully weaving will also still remain a part of the winter and summer schools.

I certainly wish Sturt well for its future. This is a remarkable place. It has touched both mine and many others lives.

In the meantime, I have one term left here- just 9 weeks. I wonder what they will bring. There is nothing surer that we will have fun exploring technique, weaving, producing and achieving. We will definitely be enjoying each other’s company. I have some plans for group challenges and activities as well as students working on individual projects. Watch this space and see what we do. We are going to make the most of it.


September 2014

October 4, 2014

It was the end of term at Sturt. Some projects were finished, others will carry over into next term.

 

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She finished another piece of weaving in the Saori style. She found the development of pattern by the clasped weft technique very interesting. After the holidays she’ll complete the garment.

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Maggie finished another warp using shirt fabric combined with other yarns. The smaller warp has resist threads woven in and will be dyed in indigo. It has been a very interesting exercise as each warp while using the common theme of using old shirts as yarn have been decidedly different. Maggie explains technique to Isobel and Tuesday.

The highlight of the month for many was an indigo bath. It is quite magical watching fabric turn from green to blue as the indigo dyed fabric is removed from the bath and is exposed to the air.

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Dyeing and undoing in progress.

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Maggie’s dyed warp shown above.

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Isobel dyed wood and leather.

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Two ladies from pottery wondered what we were doing and also dunked some fabrics.

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The woodies came. As part of their course they had been exploring various colouring effects. They took the opportunity to see what happens on various woods.

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Then they were fascinated by the process and also dyed some fabric which was on hand. And then some shoelaces.

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And some hair.

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It certainly was fun and a great way to involve community.

At the end of term, I got to go home for a week or so. On the way I spent a couple of days at Bornhoffen, a camp in the Gold Coast hinterland teaching crackle to the Gold Coast Spinners and Weavers. It was delightful surroundings with great views across the mountain. They are a very active group with a wide range of skill abilities.  We really didn’t have a great deal of time to take in the scenery. It’s a great facility and staying at a camp where food is provided sure does allow for focus on the workshop. Many samples were completed.

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Back to Sturt and in just two weeks the garden had changed, It was much greener but exquisitely beautiful with other trees flowering. The drift of petals coming down is something to be enjoyed.

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In October I am involved in two exhibitions.

Firstly, there’s Exposition.This exhibition has already been featured on my blog. It was first shown at Warwick. This time it will be at the Redland’s Museum. The exhibition is on till the end of October. If you are in the South East of Queensland, please come.

Exposition Redlands (464 x 600)

Then just two weeks later is my solo at Framed. I am nearly ready. Again if you are in Darwin, please come and view the exhibition. Framed have done a wonderful invitation. Thanks go to the Graphics designer and other staff involved. For those who have never been to Framed, it is a very beautiful gallery. I am delighted to be exhibiting there.

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Invite 2 (283 x 600)

 

 

 


August 2014

September 1, 2014

There are some months when a collection of photographs is necessary to remind me all that has been accomplished. This has been in no small means because I am very focussed on working towards my next solo exhibition in October. It is sure galloping towards me at a very fast rate. No, I am not sharing images of that, as all will be revealed in the exhibition.

Anyway, as I said, the images on the camera tell a story of what has happened this past month. Well, here goes:

A fire was needed. Some days in early August were bitterly cold and I did take the opportunity to light a fire. A pile of kindling and some ready cut logs, left over from the basketry weekend, why wouldn’t I? There just isn’t anything like a fire to add ambience to the weave studio.

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Ruth has cut off a second warp in variegated silk. As she now intends making a garment, she decided that she’d weave two more narrow warps using the same silk in 3 varigated colourways but in different quantities. Because they have all been used in the main piece they will relate.

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Maggie has completed her first step in her project. She has been weaving a number of warps using old shirts. She’s got a major project in mind and at this stage is collecting lengths of fabrics using a component of cut up shirts in various structures and effects. This purple warp was woven with fabric and a soft cotton yarn. She’s also woven it with weft shibori. If you look carefully, yellow fishing line for the resist can be seen. Next step is to pull it up and dye.

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Left over from the Sturt Winter School and a saori weaving class by Kaz Madigan were a number of black warps. The sett is very open and suitable for weft faced textiles. Bev took the opportunity of not having to wind a warp and thread a loom and wove a scarf using black and yellow for the weft and Danish medallions to add interest.

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Maureen is very pleased to have completed a challenging project. Some considerable thought went into the mechanics of weaving a transparency in linen. Weaving linen is not the best idea in a studio where the heater is constantly on. The warp needed to be constantly sprayed with water to maintain the yarns strength and to prevent problems with the selvedges. If the moisture levels were maintained during weaving, there was minimal problem. In addition Maureen discovered the mechanics of weaving using a transparency and modified the width of her design to enable reaching under the warp and avoiding drag by her arm on the selvedges. It has been a challenging project with a very beautiful outcome. As with all projects, it will be great to see it finished.

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Tuesday has completed a project requiring several new skills: a series of purses. First she wove bands on fabric in honeycomb.

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Then she sewed them up. She had never used a sewing machine to sew a project before. And then she sewed on buttons; another new skill.

Then she made some braid on a marudai to match the purses: another new skill.

P1050110Here they are all completed.

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During the month, I had to go back home to Brisbane. While I was there, I went to see an exhibition of South Sumatran Textiles at Gallery 159, The Gap. It was an amazing exhibition drawn from the collection of Greg Pankhurst. I hope evryone who could get to it took the opportunity. Gallery 159 is the TAFTA Gallery and details of exhibitions and all manner of interesting information can be found on the web: http://www.tafta.org.au.  Janet de Boer was the prime mover in organising the exhibition. Here she is with husband, Peter admiring the works.

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It now seems a long time ago since a fire was needed. Yes, there are days when it is very cold but the balance is changing and you can feel spring around the corner. The changing garden at Sturt is a treat.

P1050114A flowering cherry infront of the weave studio.

P1050115And a magnificent magnolia in another part of the garden.

 


July 2014

July 30, 2014

Two days after arriving home from Canada and USA, I was on the road back to Sturt. On the way, I stopped off at the opening of Exposition in Warwick Regional Art gallery. In fact Glenys Mann and I co-opened it with a discussion on how it came about, the artists involved and the response to the concept.

It all began about 2 years ago with a drive. We were on the way to Warwick for me to open Glenys’s exhibition. Somehow the idea was mooted that it would be fun to gather a group of artists from across a range of media and see how individually each would respond to a common theme. What sort of theme: a word or group of words, an image? This is what transpired. The title was chosen: Exposition. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary of 1933 provides the meaning: “The selection of some sensible object, in order to prove a general relation apprehended by the intellect.” An image was chosen for the artists to respond to.

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These are the exhibiting artists: Cass Holmes, UK; Deb McArdle, Aust; Diane Savona, USA; Dionne Swift, UK; Elizabeth Lada Gray, Aust; Estelle Virgen, Aust; Heike Gerbig, Germany;   Mary Hettmansperger, USA; Pamela Fisher, Aust; Glenys Mann, Aust. and myself.

The range of work is amazing. Some responded directly to the image, others used an association of ideas, some responded to the words. I am unable to share images of all the works.

Glenys obviously responded to the image with her works titled Tag.

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Artist Statement   The definition of Tag (from The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary published 1933)

  1. One of the narrow often pointed pendent pieces made by slashing the skirt of a garment; hence any hanging ragged or torn piece; also, any end or rag of ribbon or the like.
  2. A small pendent piece or part hanging from, or attached more or less loosely to the main body of anything.
  3. A point of hard substance at the end of lace, string, strap or the like to facilitate its insertion through the eyelet-hole, when externally visible, often ornamental.
  4. To furnish or mark with or as with a tag (in various senses).
  5. To append as an addition or afterthought: to fasten, tack on, or add as a tag to something.
  6. To fasten or tack together; to join. To join or string together.

Trood and my work

Truda Newman in front of my works: A Collection of Curiosities I, II, III.

My artists Statement: This bottle speaks of times past. It reminds me of bottles arranged on country museum shelves, dusty bottles left on shelves and found hidden away in cupboards in old family homes. It also reminds me of other containers used in the same way: wooden boxes, shoe boxes, jars and my Dad’s baccy tins. Labels, if they are still attached are tied on with bits of string or with yellowing peeling sticky tape; the writing spidery, faded, indecipherable. Maybe they contain something and maybe there are traces of what was in them. Sometimes these bits and pieces were left over from past projects or acquired and stored because they might be useful. Sometimes one comes across real treasures: a lovely collection of buttons or old coins perhaps.

I have containers of odds and ends, things I couldn’t bear to throw out and things that I might need sometime in the future. I have containers of various bits of hardware: nails, screws and washers and fishing gear kept in plastic film canisters. I have my Dad’s baccy tins, bottles and jars of all shapes and sizes holding all manner of useful sewing items, art supplies, heirlooms. These curiosities have been inherited or collected over my lifetime.

There are two elements I wished to identify in this series: the bottle/container and the label. The fabric has been woven in doubleweave allowing pockets to be formed to hold various items: curiosities with the “indecipherable” label being represented by the superimposed inlaid brocaded shapes.

Details of two of the works.

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The exhibition continues till the 17th August 2014. I would like to acknowledge the gallery staff as they have done a wonderful job in the presentation of the exhibition.

Back to Sturt and the start of term. Students are working on a variety of pieces in a wide range of techniques: some are specific projects, others are samples exploring various techniques. Some were begun last term so will be finished soon.

This last weekend saw the opening of a significant basketry exhibition at Sturt. It is a retrospective of Virginia Kaiser’s work. Virginia’s career spanned over 30 years and as the curator of the exhibition, Slavica Zivkovic, writes in the catalogue “The Poetry of Place is an exhibition by one of Australia’s foremost contemporary basket-makers, who will be remembered for her integrity of practice and her innovative techniques.” Some of the baskets are from her estate while others are from acquired collections. In addition the exhibition includes materials and equipment she used and drawings from her notebooks. It is an extremely comprehensive and well produced exhibition. Eventually it will go to Broken Hill, where she had her studio.

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A number of basket making workshops were run to coincide with the opening. Sturt was a very exciting place to be. The weaving studio hosted 3 x 1 day worksops. I enjoyed seeing the hive of activity as I passed through.

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Harriet Goodall and “On the Wall- Basketry beyond the vessel.

Words left behind on the whiteboard after the weekend provide food for thought:

What is the craft of being human?

The material, myself, that I have to work with constantly changes. It has qualities of clay, glass, metal, wood, fibre, wool; it is brittle, flexible, malleable, obdurate.

It is as if the study of being human is the ultimate craft and all the crafts reflections of it.

The Work of Craft, Carla Needleman.

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Is Spring just around the corner?