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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Standing before a hedge

It’s been a funny old time lately. As I have said a few times and in a few different places my creativity/art practice feels stuck. I realised I didn’t like the idea of stuck, with the image of me in mud, unable to move. My mind is happier with the image of a hedge in front of me. It’s a barrier, but even if I can’t chop it all down, I know that I can snip my way through it.

So what’s in the hedge, what’s stopping me?

  • Mess and stuff, which seems to have accumulated around me. I have begun to tidy, clean up and throw out/recycle, and am happy to take this one cupboard/box/basket at a time. (Wasn’t this what lockdown was supposed to be about ~ cleaning out cupboards?!)
  • Having enough finished works. Part of me thinks, why do I want to make more?
  • The lack of inspiration. In my life BC (before covid, of course!) I loved to meander through galleries, along beaches, in new towns and along highways. That came to a halt, and I still feel wary about getting out and about at the moment.
  • and other things that are going on in my life. They aren’t my stories to tell but still demand my time and energy.
  • Maybe too there is the general malaise that many of us are feeling. Weary, uncertain, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Then the perfect online masterclass came along. “The essence of identity” with Donna Watson. The goals of the course seemed to fit me perfectly ~ “This class is ideal for you if you are looking for clear strategies and exercises to move your creativity forward and if you are ready to go deeper, raising your level of creative consciousness.” Yep, that’s me.

Already I have insights, that arose out of Donna’s simple request to write down the strengths and weaknesses of my art. I love doing the collages of reeds, mangroves and rock pools, and I thought I was showing the fragility and importance of those habitats. However I wasn’t sure where to go beyond that. More of the same? Another habitat? I realised I had an interesting technique but that I needed to go deeper with the concept of environmental fragility that lies behind these works. I am not sure what I mean by that, but I want to find out.

At the end of the course I would love to have integrated the different parts of my art. I have a range of techniques in my toolbox. I am excited by collage and I love textile work. I want to learn how to use the different technique/element from my toolbox at the right time and in the right place. I think that will come when I have delved deeper into my art and practice and found my own voice.

As I mentioned in my SAL post, I am not taking on any projects at the moment, either textile or other. I want just play with ideas, bits of paper and stitches, to see what emerges.

However, not having a project is difficult. I am quite outcome driven, and not knowing what I want to do before I sit down can be quite uncomfortable. The mantra “Don’t think, don’t name” is useful. So is remembering that uncomfortable is good if I am prepared to work out the why’s of that feeling.

This exploration coincides with an idea I just found today ~ to go deeper not wider. It comes from David Cain, and the idea is to use whatever you have for a year, a Depth Year. Use the materials, the skills, the books, the musical instrument that you already have, and gain experience and find value in those things.

I like that idea although I am not sure about the books, especially if it includes Library books. I am attracted to the next bright and shiny thing ~ a piece of material that I might need, a pencil that will make my work sing, a new sketchbook, a new technique ~ especially a new technique. Using the skills, knowledge and materials I already have is another way of focussing and limiting my options.

So, I am going exploring. I will be fooling around and playing. I will be thinking and meandering in my own head. Also I am hoping that my thoughts and ideas will come tumbling out onto blog posts.

(I am reminded of the delightful children’s book “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen” by the wonderful Russell Hoban and illustrated by the irrepressible Quentin Blake.Do you know it?)


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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My art work SAL

SAL

I haven’t been sewing anything in particular lately. Instead I have been inspired by Claire Wellesley’s idea of a stitching journal. I am just stitching, playing with stitches, with no thought for the finished product. In fact I hope there is no product, and maybe no finish.

It is on off cuts of linen from a dress I recently sewed. It didn’t matter to me that the off cuts were odd shapes, nor that the edges are raw. The seams are handsewn French seams.

I was practising how to control running stitch to get different effects.

Circles in chain and stem stitches. They were fun to do, after I had traced around a 20 cent coin.

I will happily work on this, probably adding more linen as I go. However I am not starting any other textile projects for a while. At the moment I am working out where I want my art to go. Part of that is thinking about how to meld my textile work to my collage. I don’t want to just add textile bits to a collage, but instead to have the two media work together, where it is appropriate.

So, I am doing a lot of thinking rather than much making. This will be my last SAL, for a while at least. However, the others on the list below, will still be creating wonderful embroideries.


AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
Odds and Ends SAL

SAL ~ last one for 2021

You were all correct….my embroidered yoke needed time to talk to me, to tell me what was to come next.

I added more pistol stitches to each flower (although I think they may also be fireworks!); they gave the flowers/fireworks more oomph. Then it needed a line of stem stitch weaving its way. One line become a couple close to each other.

Once I had finished that I realised that the fancy, feathery yarn that was a feature of the front pockets would now work, as there is enough stitching to carry it.

My pattern was slightly out, as I found when I sewed the patch onto the yoke of the jacket….but not enough to worry me. If you look closely in the photo below you can see that the right shoulder doesn’t quite come to the sleeve.

And from the front

I am really happy with the jacket. It was the perfect weight to wear today, when the weather was cool enough to need an extra layer, but not something too heavy. It was fun to wear, and even the Fella said it looked okay. That’s high praise from him!

Thanks to the Fella for the photographs. He is improving, as he didn’t cut my head off in either of these!

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


Update on my possum problem

Neither the possums nor I have got the upper hand yet. I have doubled the number of strings to train the shoots up. A couple of shoots have reached the wires of the pergola, only to be eaten when they get to the top, but there are more inching their way up. I am optimistic, and determined, that I will succeed! However, to be sure I am still wrapping up the delicate little shoots at night. It keeps me amused!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow….or outfoxing possums

We have no air-conditioning. In Summer we rely on our grape vine to drape over the pergola to keep out the morning sun. It’s been that way for many years.

Until the last couple of years when the possums discovered the tasty new shoots that emerge. So I joined the large group of gardeners suffering from The Attack of the Possums, working out ways to out-fox the critters. Mine seem to be the very cute little ringtails, rather than the big boofy brush tails. I am hoping that the small ringtails eat less!

Of course they are excellent climbers and the trunks of the vine, the fence and the supports for the pergola make excellent highways. They can hang and nibble on those tasty shoots. The top of the vine is perfect for them. Not so good for the vine.

By December this should be a canopy of leaves and tendrils.

Fortunately the vine is also persistent and sends shoots out from below. I am relying on them to create the shade.

My thoughts are that if the possums can’t get a secure purchase they won’t be able to nibble. So here’s the plan….to encourage these shoots to grow up to the top, away from the grasp of the pesky pests. That plan needs a few things.

Firstly, strings attached to the wires at the top and then tied to the shoot. Climbing a ladder and trying to throw the string wasn’t the best method. With some lateral thinking I realised the rake was the perfect solution. I could put the ball on one of the tines and direct it over the string, making sure the shoot is growing up away from anything that might give a secure footing. (Then dodging as the ball of string came tumbling down!)

This one is certainly reaching for the sky.

The second part of the strategy is to wrap the new shoots up at night as possums are nocturnal. Each night I go out and tenderly wrap the little ones up in an old bedsheet. Each morning I take it away so that they can photosynthesis their little hearts out.

So far my strategy is working. However I am sure you can see the flaw in it….what happens when the shoots reach the top. I have tried to put the strings into places on the wires that aren’t so easy to reach. As well I am hoping that these upright ones will provide some sun protection.

So far I am out-foxing those pesky possums, but who knows what the outcome will be!

The glory days of the vine!

P.S. You know how WordPress gives you a link to similar posts at the bottom of each post? Well, after I published this I saw one titled “Pesky Possums”. Not only have I told you about this problem before, but used almost the same language!! That made me smile!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

Categories
My art work Odds and Ends SAL

SAL

Last time I had finished embroidering patches on the pockets of my jacket and was eyeing off the yoke.

I have worn it a couple of times and it feels good to wear.

So, I decided to play with the yoke. The front ones seemed a bit too obvious, so I have begun the back. Another advantage of the back is that it didn’t have to be a close match of the pockets. However I wanted to keep some of the same elements.

The fabric is quite different — a mustard linen from a dress I recently made. The colours of the threads give it a different feel.

What is the same is the stitching. The outside border is coral knot stitch, then white chain stitch. The flowers are created with pistol stitch, which I think gives a funky feel.

Now I am a little stuck. It’s not finished, and needs more oomph, more wow. I tried the feathery yarn that worked so well on the front. It didn’t work on this 🤔. So I am letting it talk to me, to tell me what comes next. It doesn’t need to be rushed. I am sure there will be progress to show next SAL.

This stitch-a-long is for our own personal sewing, so all the women on the list are creating wonderful things. Follow the links to see what they are up to. I am sure you will be amazed.



Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Megan, Deborah, Renee, Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, AJ, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

Categories
Odds and Ends

My wardrobe

My latest stitching for the Stitch-A-Long has been freeform patches for a useful but uninspiring jacket. In that post I mentioned that I have been thinking about my wardrobe.

Like all good thinking there are a few threads (that pun is for you, Kate!) that have come together. A couple have been inspired by the Soul Craft Festival. (I would highly recommend this to you for next year!)

Thread One

Last year the various speakers and the warm and thoughtful Felicia herself encouraged me to think about what happens to our clothing after we have finished with it. I don’t have a lot of clothes to move on, but when I do move them on the op-shop is my choice. I realised that what I was really doing was shifting my responsibility for the garment to the op-shop. I felt good that I hadn’t sent it to landfill, forgetting disregarding that someone else had to make that decision.

So I decided to be more conscious about what I bought and made.

For example, I wanted to knit over this last Winter. Normally I make quick decisions without considering where a garment will fit into my wardrobe. This time I spent time considering patterns and wool to make the sort of jumper I wanted.

Unfortunately, when I finished knitting I realised that it was too small. Not unbearably so, but enough to make me overlook it when I was considering jumpers to wear. So out it all came and I knitted it up again a couple of sizes larger, only to realise that it was slightly too short in the body and arms. Same problem….I would overlook it and the time, materials and energy would be wasted. So, I undid the rib of the body and sleeves and knitted it longer. (It was a pattern that you knit from the shoulders down, so I could easy unravel it.) Now I enjoy wearing it. And each time I do I think about taking the time and making those conscious decisions to get it right so that I would enjoy wearing it, and have it for quite a few years to come.

Thread two

This is along the same lines of making conscious decisions….the ideas around wearing clothing that have positive values in them, and values that fit in with my own. Are they made from more sustainable fabrics? When buying this garment/pattern/fabric/yarn am I supporting an indie maker or local shop? Can I get a sense of the environmental and social impact of this garment?

I realise that there will always be some social or environmental impacts. And I am honest enough to know that I am only going to put in a small amount of research into those impacts, instead relying on the integrity of those I buy from. My aim is to be as thoughtful, considered and mindful as I can.

Thread three

For a while I have been wanting my clothes to be more interesting. I am so tired of reaching for jeans and jumpers and jackets.

So….

After listening to some wonderful women* speak at the Soul Craft Festival I was inspired to really think about my wardrobe. I even made notes and drew sketches of the garments that I enjoy wearing! I came up with some ideas:

  • I love, and need, my clothes to be comfortable. The tops I enjoy wearing pull over my head ~ no zips, buttons, belts. I like them to drape and hang, and to have pockets where possible.
  • I love layers, and scarves. This is great, because I don’t like being cold!
  • I want to get into the habit of really considering new clothes. Do I need it? Does it fit in with other things I have? What will happen to it at the end of its life with me? How was it made? Where have I bought it? Would I get pleasure if I made something like this rather than buying off the rack?
  • I want my clothes to be interesting. This might be handmade (like the patches on my jacket pockets) or a quirky brooch or a different combination of clothes.
  • I want to severely limit the clothes I buy from mainstream shops.

This is a very self-indulgent post, written mostly to get my thoughts in a coherent fashion. However I wonder if you have been thinking about your clothes? I would love to know what is important to you.


* These are some of the women who spoke at the festival

Meg McElwee from Sewliberated She says that clothes should be treasures and heirlooms, that reflect who we are and the story we want to tell the world. I like that.

Leeyong Soo who blogs at Style Wilderness. She has some wild creations made from op-shop finds. After looking at her work I was inspired to create the patches for my jacket. Mine are nowhere near as flamboyant as her outfits.

Katrina Rodabaugh. You may already know her work, especially those menders among you. I have just finished reading her book Mending matters

And for more inspiration:

https://www.instagram.com/tumanualidades.de/ was suggested to me by Dawn, who, by the way, makes the most beautiful jewellery.

I hope those of you overseas can access this documentary from the ABC. Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson were icons of the Australian fashion industry, and their creations are inspirational.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and sew – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

Categories
My art work SAL

Stitch-A-Long

Three weeks ago I showed you the square I was stitching. I had no firm idea about what it was going to be as I was just playing with stitches I learnt form my stitching wheel.

At the same time I was thinking deeply about my wardrobe. The full explanation is for another post. However one conclusion I came to was that I want the things I wear to be interesting, unexpected and things that I enjoy.

My mind wandered off to a plain lightweight jacket that I should wear more often. It is perfect for cool Spring or Autumn days, where you need something but nothing heavy.

And then the question/suggestion: “Why don’t I embroider patches for the pockets?”

So I did.

It was fun to play with different threads from my stash, including one that has long pink threads embedded in it. And more coral knot stitch.

The patches are only hand sewn on, so are easily removed if I decide to go back to plain ~ or desire different unexpected patches.

It’s an odd unexpected combination, but the patches make me smile. (I am eying off the yoke at the moment!)

This stitch-a-long is for personal stitching. There is a group of us who post every three weeks. Follow the links as there is such a wonderful diversity of stitching going on in the group.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and sew – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

Some Halloween joy ~ or we made it, Melbourne

I am not a fan of Halloween.

It is too centred around lollies and sweet things. And all those decorations that, at best, will end up in landfill.

But maybe I am a Halloween grinch because it is not my tradition! We didn’t have it when I was growing up, so I ignore it.

However I felt more fondly towards Halloween this year.

It was a beautiful evening in Melbourne, and we had just emerged, bleary eyed from six long lockdowns over the last 18 months. I went for a walk to the wetlands, a place I have walked almost daily over that time.

And it was alive with ghosts, witches, pirates, zombies, fairies and every other dressed up child. They were going to the houses that boarded the wetlands. There were picnickers, and adults walking with fairies on bikes and zombies on scooters. All around was the sound of children having fun.

These are the same kids that have missed out on parties, sleepovers, school camps, footy training, playing with friends in park, hugging grandparents. I could not begrudge them the joy they were finding in being together to get lollies.

I remembered how way back in March last year I was walking the same area, anxious about how the world would be, worried that we would descend into a dystopian future. Last Sunday I realised that this joyous event was a declaration ~ that we had made it through the lockdowns, that we had worked together (well, most of us!) to make sure the vulnerable were protected, that our sacrifices have given our stretched hospital system some chance.

It’s not over and care, masks and continued vaccinations are still needed, but it was so lovely to see all those kids being kids, the big grown-up kids too!


Melbourne experienced extreme winds last Friday, bringing down trees and power lines. Some homes are still without power. My internet has been off for the last eight days, but came on this morning. Yay!

Now I can catch up with all those tasks that require the internet, including catching up with your blogs. Things are just not the same on the small phone screen.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past, present and emerging.

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SAL Texture

SAL

Having finished my stitching wheel I was at a loss for what to do next. I knew I wanted to do something that used some of the stitches I had learnt. At the same time the Soul Craft Festival* began. We were offered the chance to embroider a bag.

The suggestion was to embroider plants that had special healing powers, and special memories, like lavender, thyme, echinacea. That would have been lovely, but my thoughts put the two things together. I began a square using different types of yarns.

It’s finished, but there will be more.

One of the delightful things about the Soul Craft Festival (and I describe it more below), is that Felicia and the presenters encourage me to think about my making process.

I am thinking about my need to have a finished object. I often get stuck on the questions of “What will I make it into? What will I do with it when I have finished?” The answer (“I don’t know”) often stops me from beginning. Not just sewing, but also with other art work. It’s obvious that knitting a jumper or making a dress is an end product, embroidering a square of material doesn’t. Neither does the stitching wheel.

So I am quietening that little voice that keeps asking “What will you do with this?” with a few answers. Maybe it will become a square on a tote bag, maybe it will join up with the others I am going to make. But the most satisfactory answer is “I don’t know, I am just playing, and practising stitches, and finding out which ones I like.”

Changing my thinking has also changed how I have gone about it. I did the panel in the middle with a Jacobean couching stitch (not sure if that is the right name), which ended up just too loose. (An embroidery hoop would help, but I can’t find mine, and I can’t go out and buy one.)

Out it came and I worked it in sections. It’s not fabulous, but it taught me a lot ~ and that’s the point for me at the moment.

I do like the outside edges.

I have done coral knot stitch in various threads. I have become quite a wiz at this stitch! The twisted novelty yarn is secured with couching. The wider blue band is double herringbone stitch. I like the contrast of the lighter blue, which I think works better than using the same teal colour.

This Stitch-A-Long is for embroiders to carry out their own passion projects. Each of us is doing something quite different and all are wonderful to see each three weeks. Follow the links below to find out what we are up to.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen


* The Soul Craft Festival is a wonderful, comforting month of talks and discussions that delve further into how making nourishes our souls.

As the organiser, Felicia, says:

It’s a festival of ideas, stories and conversations about how making elevates our lives;
how making supports us, connects us and ultimately changes us, our communities, and our cultures.

It is running over October and while it has been going for 2 weeks, the programme will be available for the next 6 months. I am assuming it is not too late to join up.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

Last gardening post I showed you the front garden, and the murnong in particular. This time I want to show you around the backyard.

I have never been able to have straight garden beds and areas of lawn, my style is much more free form gardening. Until they really annoy me, I am happy to let plants be. So the nasturtiums wander happily, seeding freely. I am also happy to have them because I can pull them out easily.

The corn flowers also self-seed and not always in the best places. However, again, I am happy to let them be. They did flop over the path, so I staked them, making a little avenue. You might be able to see smaller cornflower plants growing around the paver. That’s not the best spot, but so far I am happy to step over them.

It is iris time too, one of my favourite flowers; I am not sure why I love them so much. It may be because they are so undemanding and very drought tolerant. I know that they flower on new rhizomes, so clearing out the patch every couple of years is a good idea. They are very easy to replant ~ simply semi-burying the rhizome.

Both of these patches in the photos have white flowers. There is a third patch that is just coming into flower with rich browny purple flowers. As much as I enjoy the white ones these darker ones are definitely my favourites.

Another showy plant was the tea tree. It was a mass of pink blossoms that the bees loved. Now the flowers are ripening into wonderful seed capsules. Look at the different colours as the capsules mature.

It’s not all tip toeing around the corn flowers and dead heading iris. A spur of the moment decision was to cut back the correa that had been growing happily through drought and neglect. It served its purpose, but time to go as it was too much of a visual barrier. Not that the view behind it was grand….more mess and weeds.

Before the cutback
During the devastation
After

You can see from all the new growth how happy it was to be ruthlessly pruned! I thought I would dig it out, but I am not up for that at the moment. So in the spirit of my gardening ethos, it can stay.

The other thing I have been doing is the continual weeding. And just so you know that my garden is not pristine and Instagram worthy, take a look at this….

😩

And there will be plenty more weeds with all the lovely rain that has fallen.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.