Posted by: aquaplusflora | July 11, 2012

Where did those 3 months go?

I have been here, there and everywhere in the last 3 months – they seem to have gone by in a flash

  At least someone around here is looking pretty laid back and relaxed – our next door neighbour thinks our Japanese garden is the perfect place for some R & R

Both my pieces were accepted in the Changing Threads show and Colin’s Bed even got a special mention at the Opening

But the thing I have enjoyed most in the last 3 months was going to Brisbane with my friend Ronnie (thats her below)  for Dorothy Caldwell’s workshop

I learnt lots, caught up with old friends, made new ones and generally had a wonderful time

I was determined that all my fabrics and threads would be naturally dyed so had quite a bit to do before leaving home but it was worth it in the end

This rather messy object is a mixed media book – I did manage to finish it but my assembly techniques can certainly do with some practice

Now I am working on several pieces for a joint exhibition to be held here in Nelson in October

This is a detail from the first panel in a triptych and consists of eco prints, natural dyes and stitching – I am already putting some of the things I learnt at Dorothy’s workshop to good use

Posted by: aquaplusflora | March 11, 2012

Five Little Prayer Flags

I thought I would show you a sneak preview of my second entry for Changing Threads.

I have been notified that it has also been accepted for the second round of judging so hopefully it will go through into the exhibition too.

I started work on this series in February 2011 after doing a Feltquilt workshop with India Flint.  (To give credit where its due, it was she who suggested some of my pieces could work as prayer flags rather than being joined together to make a quilt)

I was stitching away when I heard the news on the radio that there had been another devastating earthquake in Christchurch.

I found that the simple act of stitching helped me deal with the grief and shock I was feeling at that time.

Other things took priority for my time and I had to put away the pieces I had completed.

When it came time to think about entries for Changing Threads, I decided to finish the series. In February this year it was time for them to go into the dyebath

In the universal language of colour, pink means unconditional love and compassion and as Griselinia leaves give pink prints that’s what I decided to use for these little prayer flags.  The pieces were bundled with the leaves and then put into  a Kowhia dye bath (which gives a beautiful pale green –  the colour of the heart – perfect).

Posted by: aquaplusflora | February 20, 2012

A Weird Story

I have just completed my entries for the Changing Threads textile awards which have now become an annual event here in Nelson (NZ) .  One of my pieces came about through a strange set of synchronis events when I was helping David install his piece ….. ( electroseance for CMcC) for the Dionoia show at the Suter Gallery in late 2011. These resulted in my being given a copy of a very bitter letter written by Colin McCahon to the Suter Gallery in 1979.  In a conversation about the letter with Nelson artist Errol Shaw, he explained why Colin was still so bitter about Nelson 30 years after he had lived here.  In the late 1940s Colin and his family were renting a house in Tahunanui in Nelson.  When his landlord discovered that Colin was an artist, he evicted the family.  As things were so tough at that time, Colin’s wife and children were forced to go to live with her parents in Dunedin and he went to Christchurch were he lived and worked for a time in the laundry at the home of fellow artist Doris Lusk.
As soon as Errol related this story to me, an image of what his bed may have looked like in that laundry.

This is the result –

I had seen some wonderful big jute bags at a local gardening store and was totally taken with them and they were very inexpensive – just the thing to turn into an art bed! I made eco prints with rose leaves on it.  For the script I had part of the letter enlarged and I copied it onto the bag.  I dyed some Soya yarn I had in my stash with Banksia Rose foliage in an iron pot and then used it to embroider the script.

Once it was finished, I filled the bag, made a pillow out of a cut down small jute bag which had also been naturally dyed, added an image of a 1940s laundry and low and behold, I had Colin’s Bed!  I hope the selectors like it and it gets included in the show!

(An apology – I had added links for Changing Threads, Dionoia, Colin McCahon and Doris Lusk but they didn’t work so you will have to google them yourself if you are interested.)

Posted by: aquaplusflora | January 25, 2012

Sewing Lessons

My multi-talented friend Sharron has been helping me retrieve my long buried dressmaking and machine sewing skills – here she is “showing me how” on her machine

Unlike me where I have to work on the dining room table, she has a wonderful room with all her equipment set up readily at hand, a great work table and lots of storage

Of course Milly had to be involved

and there was lots of note taking, tea and coffee drinking

new toys to play with – I now know how to make bias binding

and I have ended up with the confidence to get my own machine out again plus a new top that is now waiting to be eco dyed

Posted by: aquaplusflora | December 7, 2011

Back Again

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I have been absent for quite a while – preparing the house for sale (again), doing some markets, having visitors from Australia and trying to get a new venture off the ground with my friend Ronnie have all taken up my time.

But there is always time for socks – here is another pair using my deconstruct/reconstruct method

A friend machine knitted 100 gm merino 4 ply into a 60 sts wide strip, I then tied it into knots and dropped it into a red cabbage/alum dye bath

Then I knit direct from the dyed strip

You never know how its going to turn out and in this case I have lost some of those lovely mid-blue/grey tones and the pale bits are too high in contrast for my taste

but thas ok because when they are finished they can just go into another dye bath!

And here is a picture of my feline friend – just because she is so beautiful

Posted by: aquaplusflora | September 16, 2011

Site Rescene

Last year  I was invited to participate in this show

which is currently on at our regional gallery here in Nelson (NZ)

Putting my amazement at the invitation aside, I agreed to give it a go.  Our brief was to select a painting from the Suter’s collection of John Gully watercolours and create a response to it.

My choice was Baigent’s Bush, a study of a stand of pine and totara trees which was a popular 19th Century picnic spot just outside of Nelson

The painting has suffered serious light damage and is on show in a protective glass case, but you can see the details if you double click on the photo (in fact you will need to double click on all the photos to see them properly)

I really loved the strong vertical lines in the painting and  felt I could work with that concept.

I created 15 silk drops which hang from the ceiling to invoke the feeling of a stand of trees.  They are dyed with plant dyes and eco prints of pine needles and totara twigs.  All the marks were created in the dye pot – no external manipulation or mark making.   When there is a breeze in the gallery they all gently float giving a sense of trees moving in the wind.

David, my husband, was also invited to be part of this exhibition and you can get glimpse of his 6 m long watercolour “book” in the right of hand side of the photo below.

Posted by: aquaplusflora | August 30, 2011

A Windfall Walk with a Difference

Recently a friend asked if we could help with some planting at his property.

Even though I was busy preparing work for an upcoming exhibition (more about that soon) I went along as there would also be time for a windfall walk along the river

Much to our delight we were warmly greeted by one of his tenants – the other was off at work!

Alfie proved to be a most adventurous girl and made sure we were entertained over our lunch break.

When it came time for the winfall river walk she was coming too –

there had been a major flood through the valley recently, so there was lots to inspect.

And I found the leaves I needed to continue with my work including some Totara twigs

which are incredibly prickly

but worth the pain.

To top if off there were some amazing rocks too –

I will have to experiment with the pink ones some time in the future.

Posted by: aquaplusflora | August 11, 2011

New Sox

In one of my April blogs I showed this pic of naturally dyed merino yarns

and some of them have incarnated into a new form

they have been on the needles for some time but were completed during a recent stay in Auckland

I find sox a great knitting project when travelling as everything I need fits into this beautiful little Japanese bag that I bought in Sydney years ago – long before I took up knitting sox

now its time to delve into my yarn stash (naturally dyed of course) and work out what colour combination I’m going to use for the next pair  – despite all my other creative endeavours calling for  attention, I always like to have some sox “on the go”

Posted by: aquaplusflora | July 22, 2011

Where did the prints go?

Now that it is mid-winter in this part of the world, my attention over the past month or so has turned to working with merino cowls and silk velvet scarves.  As usual the merino has been giving some lovely prints but when I went to print on the silk velvet it was another story – all I could get were some rather disappointing smudges – abstract and subtle are ok but its not what I was aiming for and certainly nothing like the great prints I got last winter.

So I decided to see what would happen if I overdyed them and here is the result – not quite a print but at least a big more interesting than a smudge.

Wondering where I had gone wrong and fearing I had lost my touch with silk velvet I brewed up a new dye bath in my trusty iron pot, bundled some eucalyptus nicholii on a new piece of silk velvet and into the pot it went –  this is what came out this morning, phew.


I love how clearly you can see the form of the little branch on this one below

Just for good measure I put a habotai silk bundle with nicholii into the pot at the same time – interesting how the same plant, dye bath and pot can give such different results on different fabrics.

The leaves I used to create the dye bath were purple akeake (dodonaea viscosa “Purpurea”)  – here is what it looks like printed on habotai silk – in an iron pot again but with a dye bath made from rose stems this time.

I will certainly be using it again!

Posted by: aquaplusflora | June 20, 2011

Winter Collars

 It is getting cooler now so I have turned my attention to making felted scarves using carded organic lambswool and alpaca sliver with silk velvet embellishments

this was the first one I made and I love to snuggle into it when going out at night


they are really collars rather than scarves

draped around the neck and fastened in front with a favourite brooch or pin

all the fibres are either natural fleece colours or eco dyed and the silk velvet is coloured by eco printing it

some are wider than others and this one is really long!


what fun it is to just start mucking about with different materials and after a bit of experimenting ending up with beautiful things you can wear

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