August 12, 2014

Online Inspiration etc...

My blog is in prints! The Down Under Textiles magazine contacted me a few months ago to get my permission to publish my blog in their magazine under Online Inspiration section. I completely forgot all about it until I received an email with the attachment (see below). It will be in issue 16 which is next issue. As you know, we bloggers publish our blogs each week or some bloggers publishes everyday, but when someone else publish our blogs you can't help but get the kick out of it!

Amazing that blogs can take care of themselves so well. I haven't been attending my blog lately due to not enough hours in a day to attend to everything, but regardless, the blog counter keeps ticking away. It means that someone is visiting my blog. Thank you and thanks to those who dropped me emails and are checking on me. I'm alive, well and busy. If you want to know if I'm still kicking please check my Instagram where I post a daily photo, but not too much writing!

Also excited to be next to India Flint's article!

Close up of the article

In my last post I mentioned that I had a couple of bundles steamed and then soaked in an oak bath. I hoped I would keep them until spring, but last weekend I decided to open just one, then two. I was very happy with the results from both bundles. After dyeing for a few years, I seem to have got the knack of dyeing!

Eucalyptus leaves and She-oak pine needles

Eucalyptus leaves in rusty solution

New book cover in the making!

We have finally finishing the painting inside the Tree House Studio. As soon as that was finished we started installing the laminate flooring. I'm happy to say, that it was done late Sunday afternoon! The builder will come back and put skirting boards and the window trims next week. We have purchased two double wardrobes from IKEA ready to be installed I hope sometime this week. 

Painting is completed

Flooring is completed

Flooring butted hard against the door

I hope by the time I post next I should have the wardrobes inside the Tree-House. Installing the flooring was quite tiring. I can at least say that I now know how to lay flooring, but I don't think my knees would be pleased to go through that again!

The rain is back again. We need to finish painting the outside as soon as the weather permits.

Until next time
Nat

August 1, 2014

Online Workhops, Tree House Studio and Tea Dyeing

Earlier this year I signed up for a few online workshops. One was Alchemy 2014 with Karen Ruane. I'm behind with that workshop, but made a lot of blocks ready to put together when I have spare moment. The other workshop I signed up to was Studio Journal with Sharon Boggon. The Studio Journal workshop started a couple of weeks ago. The first project I made for the workshop was the title page for my journal. 

Journal tittle page

Journal making in progress

Mark making exercise for week 1

Update on my studio: A few people are  calling my studio a Tree house. That name came to my mind too. After it went up I realised how high it really is. Higher than my apricot tree in our backyard. I think I will call it Tree house instead of just upstairs studio!


The Tree House has now got lights! We visited a lighting store last week and choose all the lights we need for it. The electrician came and installed them.


We started painting from the ceiling down. We actually finished painting the undercoat  for the whole room. This photo was taken last weekend, but I didn't get a chance to blog it. 


Recently I was introduced to tea drinking the old Chinese way. The particular tea I tried is called Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province in China. I also found a traditional tea house close to where I live. It's called Milan Tea House. It's specialises in Chinese tea and tea drinking.

Milan Tea House

Clay pots at Milan Tea House

Wendy, the tea house owner is knowledgeable about Chinese teas and tea drinking ceremony. She spent a lot of time with us when we visited. The Milan Tea House doesn't just sell cups of tea. Wendy aims to educate her customers on healthy tea drinking habits. I have been back many times with my visitors. The shop has the feel of an olden day tea house in old cities in China. 

  

I was taught to make and serve tea the traditional Chinese way. The first tea Wendy recommended to me was Pu-erh tea, the black fermented tea for 7-13 years. It takes getting use to the taste, but after a couple of months of regular drinking, I quite like it now. 


Pu-erh tea is very dark and rich in tannin even after filling and refilling it many times it still leaves that dark rich colour. I put the used leaves in my pot plants the first couple of times, but now I use them in jar dyeing. 


The richness of tannin is coating the outside of the bundle very nicely. I only had a peek, but will open it this weekend. Using tea for dyeing leads me to think about dyeing with ground coffee! Waiting for a cup of coffee one day I saw waste ground coffee being discarded in the bin. I thought that's a lot of tannin wasted! 


I also wrapped and steamed more bundles and some jars last weekend. These bundles are now soaking in oak leaves bath. I hope to leave them there until spring before opening them. 

This blog is taking a back seat lately, but you can visit my Instagram page where I post daily photos. The Tree-House is taking all our spare time in our weekends. We have to schedule our time with the builder's progress. We hope to get painting done this weekend and also to finish laying the flooring as well. 

Until next time
Nat


July 21, 2014

Upstairs Studio, Dyeing, Stitching & Gift

A lot of progress these last 2 weeks for my upstairs studio. All walls, windows and the door are installed. We painted some weather boards before they were installed, but we didn't manage to do them all because we only had a weekend to do them. The last couple evenings we had to paint them in the evening to get the last few boards done. The roof is now up and the studio is finally weatherproof which was badly needed. It has been raining 5 out of 7 days since the project started. We started to get worried about the floorboards wondering if they were going to withstand the wet weather with so much rain.  


One of the rare occasions when we had a blue sky over the studio. This would be the last time I can see out of my studio on the East side. We used to have a nice view of sunset just over the garage. With the studio placed on the garage it has now blocked that view. You win some and you lose some!


This photo was taken last Friday when the studio finally became weatherproof, but there was no blue sky that day so the walls didn't show their true colour.


Last weekend we started painting the inside. We only managed to paint just over half of the wall. I really enjoyed working in there. I pictured where all my furniture would be placed. I'm looking forward to spring to see the blossoms from the apricot and plum trees outside my window.


I thought colour was the hardest thing to choose until I start thinking about lighting. It's hard to picture an empty room and to estimate how much lighting you will need. Then one has to consider all the new technology in lighting and bulbs. In a hardware store we were standing in front of a shelf full of bulbs, all kind of bulbs. I said to Mr. Notjustnat that you would need a Doctor's degree to understand them. Luckily Mr. Notjustnat is also a Dr. Notjustnat!

A few weeks ago I visited my son and his family and I did some dyeing with DIL. We did some bundles and jar dyeing. I opened a few bundles with her and brought the jars back to open this week. Here are some results.


In this jar I only used eucalyptus leaves. We gathered the leaves after a heavy storm at the local park. 


In this jar I used thin slices of turmeric and grated purple carrot. I added a few rusty nails and a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in the jar.   


And in the last jar. I used thinly slices of purple carrots and turmeric. I added a few copper pennies that DIL brought back from the UK earlier this year. 

A few photos of my cotton yukata I posted here. Even though I started working on this project more than a year ago. It's now finally finished. I'm so happy and can't wait to wear it!



As you can see in the above photos it's a reversible jacket. I used indigo dyed threads to stitch around the colour patches. The blue threads blended so well that you can't see them on the dark side of the jacket. 


I feel a bit sad that it's finished. I didn't want to stop stitching, so I added red stitching for protection on the bands of the patched side. I'm so thrilled with the jacket. It's nice not to have to meet any dateline on any of my projects. 


Do you sometimes give yourself a gift? Not a birthday gift, not a gift for any special occasion just a gift. I fell in-love with these rainbow beads necklace made from recycled skateboard. They are hand cut and polished by a talented young couple Ellie and Sam whom I met on Instagram. Ellie and Sam call their creation Deadwood Creative. Apart from these beads they also make bracelets, pendants, rings etc. All items are made from recycled skateboards. 

You see, sometimes you give yourself a treat because you just can't resist something so beautiful. 

Until next time
Nat


July 9, 2014

Canberra Visit and Dyeing

Our waiting to visit our son and his family in Canberra finally arrived last weekend. The last time I saw them was Christmas so I was really looking forward to seeing them again. I love taking road  trips and I enjoy the Australian landscape. Australia's landscape is unique. I feel more connected to the land since I started natural dyeing and ecoprint. 

Road trips also give me the opportunity to utilise the travelling time by stitching. I usually take something simple and straightforward to stitch. 


We set off very early to avoid the local traffic, but it till takes about an hour to get out of the city.  Early morning light in the country is beautiful. 


Only few cars on the dual-carriage highway. I love the green landscape this time of year. The landscape is totally different in the summer. 


We took a few stops along the drive. I look for simple beauty in landscapes to photograph. Something about the shape of Eucalyptus trees draws me to take photographs. The leaves, the bark, the colour of them against the blue sky. I am never bored photographing them!


The project I took for car stitching was an old cotton Yukata that I patched with vintage Japanese silk pieces. I started this a few years ago. It's like everything I do; it takes time to complete. 


We stopped for a cup of coffee at Holbrook town about half way into our trip. I took the Yukata out to air in the sun and took a photo to show you. Here it is. The inside of the jacket is reversible. I only stitch around the edges of the patches and let the colour talk to you directly.


My DIL asked if we could do some dyeing while I was there. I took some leaves along from Melbourne and gathered some more along the way. We picked some in the local park nearby as well. 



On her visit to the UK my DIL brought back some copper pennies that she wanted to use in the dye bundles and jars. We dipped, stuffed, rolled and steamed while the children were cooking and baking imaginary food of their own nearby. 




That morning my DIL took me to her weekly farmer's market. We met a friend and her mother who moved there from Melbourne. As it happens her mother was a dyer! She told me that Canberra leaves are better than Melbourne leaves! She meant Eucalyptus leaves in this case. I was excited to tried them!



We used everything we had on hand. We mixed it like true alchemy. We combined purple carrot with eucalyptus leaves and turmeric in some bundles. In other bundles we put beetroot peels, turmeric and sprinkled madder root pieces over them. We dipped some leaves in rusty water to get that rustic look! We had the best time sharing our creative love of dyeing. 



Lastly here is the update on my Upstairs Studio. It's taking shape in leaps and bounds these last couple of weeks. The wall is now up on 2 sides. The windows are also in place and the electricity cables have been installed as well. By the end of this week I'm sure all the four walls will be up. The painting is not all done. Mr. Notjustnat only has the weekend to paint and last weekend we were away so this weekend will be catch-up time. 

Until next time
Nat











June 30, 2014

A Couple of Updates

It has been windy and wet this last week and this weekend will be more of the same. I normally love it when it rains, but this week with the construction going on I wished it would stop and let the builders get on with the job. In spite of that, the studio is progressing quite well.

First I will show you my finished journal cover I have been making to keep a journal of the project. I really enjoyed stitching the pieces of the covers and didn't want it to end. I'm so happy how it turned out after I put them together as a journal cover.

Front and back cover 

Front cover

Back cover

Take a peek inside

On Saturday I visited my friend Mary who I met on Instagram @maryhandweaver. This was the second time I've met Mary. The first time Mary came here and I took her around my neighbourhood. This time I went to her house and we decided to visit Kazari/Ziguzagu. There was a 3 day sale on and we couldn't resist going there. 


Mary is also a textile artist. Her house is just a textile treasure trove. She's a fantastic weaver and collects many wonderful woven pieces from around the world. This one in the above photo is an old piece of Ikat from Indonesia. 


It's always lovely to visit Kazari/Ziguzagu. Both Hanna and Haru are so friendly and welcoming. I haven't been there lately. You can now follow them on Instagram @kazariziguzagu


In the new shipment we were told that Robert (the owner) just got back from Japan with a suitcase full of boro cloths! As it happens Robert was there to share them with us. I love that piece in the above photo and might get it if I can afford it!


Mary loves that piece. She hopes to get it when she knows the price. 


This is just some of the indigo collection they have on display. I left with a bag full of fabric and empty purse, but happy! 

And here is the update on my Upstairs Studio: In spite of the interruption of the rain on and off Simon and his team did a great job on the studio. The floor is completed. The stairs are now fixed on.


The frame is up with the spaces for the door and windows in place. Each day when I get home I would find some progress on the building.  

Front view coming from the driveway. 

View from the backyard

This is the view I will lose 


The hardest thing is choosing the colours! In the end we got six different colour samples to try them out, and guess what? We didn't like any of them. We have now settled on a Dulux colour 'Oyster Linen'. I will show you on the next post.

A full view of the studio

As you imagine I'm excited and looking forward to the big day when I can move all my stuff into the studio. I have the interior plans all layed out. I even bought a couple of Ikea cabinets in readiness. I do hope it's going to be big enough for all my stuff! 


Until next time
Nat