Monday, 1 December 2008

Busy days...

Another thing that has kept me rather busy is the annual exhibition at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries, The Christmas Shop. It's a very unique exhibition in which all works are for sale and once sold are removed immediately and replaced with something new.
I entered six pieces this year and was accepted. I entered two art quilts and four Obi Belts (I'm hoping that by making them something practical they will be more likely to sell)
They are all hand printed, dyed, stitched, quilted etc.

I've also been busy establishing my Etsy store. More on that later :-)


So, yes it's been a while. How quickly the months roll by.
Suddenly we are on the home straight to Christmas.
I had an idea last year to make the children an advent calendar, mostly inspired by my loathing for those store bought chocolate ones. I really despised the fact that in the lead up to Christmas my children were looking forward to having a chocolate each day more than anything else.
Now, my husband and I are not particularly religious, but to me Christmas should be about family and taking the time to reconnect and really just being together. I wanted to create an advent that would really imbue the entire family with the Christmas spirit.
In typical Nichole style I waited far too late to start making these bags which I planned to hand embroider and applique every single one, but I did still manage to pull it all together with a combination of decorated and plain bags.
The contents range from small gifts or chocolates (the fun factor) to activities such as making decorations, making bon bons with individualised fillings, donating old toys to charity, special outtings, hand made wrapping paper with stamps, making reindeer cookies etc.
So it's going to be another busy month, but I think it will be fun. I am already feeling the Christmas cheer, and for the first time we are going away, just the four of us to enjoy a peaceful Christmas, in stark contrast to all the others where we race from house to house. And for the first time we will create our own traditions.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Self Portrait - Vessel

Superfine merino, hand felted, stitched.

My Place - exhibition of Art Quilts from Australia, NZ and South Africa

How much do I wish I'd entered this one now! However the time wasn't right for me.
View the exhibition online here.
My Place Quilts Exhibition

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Art vs Guilt

Tuesdays are supposed to be my art days. The one day of the week where I don't have to feel guilty for doing no housework. Supposedly.

And yet I find myself sweeping the floor, clearing the dishes, baking bread, wallowing in tremendous guilt that my child is reading to himself, eating 2-minute noodles, playing alone in the silence.

Perhaps I undertake these chores so as to not feel like I have achieved nothing. So I won't be greeted with the judgement of my husband; judegment merely perceived or actual? I don't know.

Perhaps I'm too hard on myself. Is it ok to just sit and ponder away an entire day? For the sake of art?
Is an artists life so self indulgent that it should come with it's own serving of guilt on the side? Or is guilt just a woman thing?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

in stitches

I had to rescue this circa 1950s quilt from the op shop - it was destined for the welfare bin. I'd hate to see it go to a home where it was less than cherished. I can't believe that something like this has been discarded so thoughtlessly! My assumption is that it has come from a deceased estate and the grandchildren or whoever has seen little value. This is how we lose our history! Some woman has spent hours upon hours lovingly hand stitching this beautiful log cabin.
Wouldn't you just love to know all the secrets contained in those stitches!

I've discovered that I'm a left handed knitter, after knitting right handed for ...well my entire life! What a revelation! I have actually (finally) finished knitting projects I've started.

This is a neck warmer for my sister (hopefully she isn't reading this before it actually reaches her!) Knitted with handspun merino.

I'm eager to tackle socks. I have much to learn but I'm getting there. Everyone warns me off socks saying they are much too hard, this just makes me all the more determined!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

apron love

my apron from the swap did indeed arrive yesterday much to my delight. The pattern is very similar to one from my apron book which is fantastic as it's actually my favourite design!!

This one is reversable as you can see! Twice the fun, and all my fav colours.
Thanks to Raelene from Sew 4 it.

A new find from the op shop. Martin spotted this and knew I'd love it. I knew he was good for something!!

Monday, 9 June 2008

apron swap

So, I decided to take part in the sassy apron swap after reading about it over at a little bird told me so.
I actually bought totally different fabrics to use and right at the last minute I changed my mind. I hope the new owner approves of my 50s tastes!
And hopefully something yummy is on its way to me...this one, along with a matching oven mit should already be in the hands of its new owner.

Monday, 26 May 2008

on the sticks

A month ago, if you asked, I would have told you I can't knit. Despite the fact that I actually can since my Nan taught me to do so when I was about 5 or 6 and surprisingly I've never forgotten.
It must be the little rhythm we had going:
"Through the hole, around the needle, back through the hole and off!"
It became a kind of knitting mantra that I never really let go of. But despite the cool chant, my knitting skills were, well, lack-lustre. I couldn't do much else that knit and purl and I don't think I ever even finished a scarf.
I do enjoy watching the knitting show on cable however, and have found myself drawn to try different things, which upon watching the techniques, I find I can actually do them.

Inspired by the ever-talented and truly lovely Peta, whose hand knits are to die for!! I decided to bite the bullet and just go with the flow.
Peta describes her style as "organic". She doesn't work to a pattern, but rather she allows the yarn to speak to her as she creates beautiful one-off pieces in this simple yet sensitive manner. (Knit-nazi's schreech: "what!? She doesn't use a pattern!?)

Considering I can't read knitting patterns anyhow, this method really appealed to me, so I went out and bought home a bunch of yummy yarns and whipped up my first ever completed knitted item! (A petrafanella rip-off no less) To the discerning eye it is less than perfect, but that just makes me love it all the more!

And I've been practicing. My knit-literacy levels are up and I have a couple more projects on the sticks.


Craft is a place i visit between doing other things. I have always held a distinct line between what is art and what is craft, and I'm cool with that. And with crafting making such a resurgance, I'm happy to poke my head out of the crafting closet and hold it high.

I was explaining to my friend Carly how between making art I make craft; as a way of keeping myself busy but also as a way to explore techniques in a non threatening way - and I can make something useful from it!
And she said to me that it wasn't really craft, it was more like preliminary sketches, the same as she would do for a painting in her journal.

and i like that.


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Honestly, I never expected that I would be selected to exhibit in Stitched and Bound. This was my first quilted piece and a huge learning curve and now that it's finished I look at it and think ugh, I could have done this or that so much better.
So when I received a letter saying congratulations, I'm in, I nearly flipped. Excitement was closely followed by self doubt: If I was questioning the integrity of my work then how would it stand up to being exhibited publicly?
Doubts aside, I am going through with this. We all have to start somewhere and I learned from Paulo Coelho to recognise self-sabotage. I decided a while ago that it's better to be making crap work and nurturing your inner artist than to not make work at all. It's so easy to give in to fear and equally important not to!
When I spoke to the organiser of the exhibition I was astounded to learn that the judges thought of my work as "exciting" and "sensitive to my theme"
Well...I'm not going to argue with that!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

makin' stuff

a birthday gift
and a work in progress

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The art of making do

A thought has lingered in my mind for some time now about our consumerist nature. I find it so easy to be seduced by new and beautiful fabrics both as an artist and as a collector of pretty things. When I immersed myself back into my textile work I really struggled with pulling out old panels of fabric that I had printed, dyed, stitched etc. to re-use. I had this mentality that if I was using my old pieces then I wasn't moving forward artistically. But the more I pondered on this the more I came to resolve that I need not start with new cloth but instead work with what is already available to me; a kind of reclaiming of the past. And why should a piece of cloth that has been dyed and printed and stitched upon, but is for the most part useless, why should it be left to wither in a box somewhere if it can find a new lease on life by being recycled into something new. After all, the dyeing and the printing and the stitching are still my own work and ideas can be recycled too. That's not to say that I am still making works based on the same concepts that birthed these works, but rather my concepts have evolved and I am challenging myself to bring these new ideas to fruition without the need for new cloth. Why must every painting start with a white canvas?
For example, the other day I found some beautiful linen that I resist dyed about 11 years ago now. At the time I was designing a man's tunic and so the linen is cut into the pattern pieces and has sat like that all this time. I can pretty well determine that I'm not going to finish that project now given that the husband thinks it's not really suited to his style (whatever that may be!) and I have no use for a man's tunic. But what a shame to waste such lovely fabric! I contemplated recutting the pattern to fit me, but can't really be bothered with that, so I think I will instead cut it up and use it for an art piece, perhaps a pieced quilt or such.
This is just one example of many, and I'm really looking forward to challenging my creativity by recycling what I have at hand rather than buying new pretty white cloth. Over the past weeks I have thought of ways to recycle more in my life. It's really disapointing to me that my local shire won't provide recycling bins for us out here. Perhaps the cost of running the truck out here out weighs the benefit of recycling, who knows. But I hoard all I can to take into town to the big bins, but still I want to do more. I have some ideas for plastic bags so stay tuned.
Today while nursing a bad headache and a large basket of laundry Martha was making these. Struck me as something fun to do with the kids while I brain bash them about recycling.

softie love

I have to confess to alot of thinking and not alot of doing this past month. It's been a busy one and perhaps a bit of a lazy one... I had great intentions for these school holidays to be doing some making with the little ones, some felting, some printing, some general mess making, but so far nothing. The realisation that I am a terrible parent sometimes thwacks me full force. How I envy the likes of Soulemama and Angry Chicken and other seemingly super-mums who just spend their time doing.
So anyway, after a good dose of mother-guilt got to me, I decided to do something a) nice for the girl child, and b) crafty - because sometimes I just need to craft.
Nothing like some mid week softie making to put the mama back in favour!

also, very excited to discover EcoColour has arrived in the bookstore, hopefully I will venture down that way before the week is out.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


My best friend Carly opened her solo art exhibition this past weekend in Denmark at the Old Butter Factories Art Gallery. I was so proud to be there to be part of this very special and exciting event with her. Carly and I have known each other now for 13 years and although for much of that time we've been separated by physical distance, I always find we slip so easily back into our comfortable friendship without even trying. She is such an inspiration to me. At 30 she is establishing herself as an artist, she is a specialist art teacher - having worked in some very remote communities; she is a wife and a mother to the most precious two year old twins. Somehow she manages to make her art an integral part of her life and devotes the time to persevere with her craft, whilst balancing family life and also her career as a teacher.

You can see why she is such an inspiration.
I am so damn proud of you Carly!

My New Toy

need I say more?

PIF exchange

So, finally finally FINALLY, I caught up with Peta the other day for coffee and fast-paced chats etc and I took along her yellow felted necklace that has been sitting, packaged and ready to go for three months! I know I could have posted it, and the thought did cross my mind, but I think it's so much nicer giving a gift in person...don't you?

I think she likes it...she wrote some pretty nice stuff about me here. :-)

I actually never commented on Peta's PIF, but being the gorgeous soul she is, she decided I should get a gift anyway. (So I went back and commented after the fact)

I've had such fun experimenting with ways to wear this gorgeous wrap.

I also scored these adorable silk slippers that she bought on a trip in Vietnam

I can't even begin to tell you how devestated I am that Peta is moving back to Perth. It's been such a pleasure having her as a friend these past two years. It's not often you stumble across someone so like minded and I really will miss her creative spirit and fantastic insight about all things textiles and craft! Hopefully I will be able to make more time to visit her and my other neglected arty friends in perth!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

new additions...

A few new books on their way to my collection:

I'm so seriously happy about getting a copy of Eco Colour! I've been anxiously awaiting its release.

And to satisfy my crafty urges; to whittle away at my fabric stash; and to aid in getting rid of this stupid Doubleday membership! In the future I will be buying books through amazon or through Boffins in Perth. Doubleday have the most abysmal selection ever.

In case you were wondering, no I didn't get Eco Colour through Doubleday. I called a bookstore and have it on order, in this case it was Dymocks.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Stitched and Bound by themes...

So the 'quilt' is done, with much relief. I'm reasonably happy with it; in hindsight there are things I would perhaps do differently, but given that this is my first large scale attempt at making a quilted textile piece I'm pretty happy with the result. It has been a learning curve and has certainly fueled inspiration to produce more pieces like it.
I've been doing loads of research into quilts, tradional and contemporary. View the stunning online exhibition Australia Wide here. One artist I particularly admire is Pamela Fitzsimons from NSW. [I can't find a website, but there are a few images online if you care to google.] Also Wendy Lugg is very inspiring. Wendy is a WA artist so I have had the pleasure of viewing her work in the past.

Anyway, I digress. A HUGE thanks goes out to Clare Day for taking some
snapshots of my quilt and burning them to a disc for me, the images have been submitted to this years Stitched and Bound exhibition which will be held at the Mundaring Arts Centre in July. Fingers crossed!

There are a few other art awards and exhibitions coming up later in the year which brings me to a point that I'm struggling with: Working to a theme.
Some of these awards have designated themes to which the artist must adhere. Some are easier than others. This one in particular has me stumped! The theme is Gold.
I've never really worked to a theme before, usually I have my own direction or themes present in my work, so this is a challenge .
If anyone has any useful advice I'd be most appreciative!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

sweet potato and ginger muffins

do you ever get an idea that sounds a little crazy, but you think it may just work?? Well that happened to me today as I was driving home from Bunbury. I'm not sure why I was thinking about sweet potatoes, but I was, and this idea for muffins kind of whalloped me on the head. So when I arrived home I set to work, and I have to say they were absolutely scrummy!

Sweet Potato and ginger muffins

I medium sweet potato or kumera (the orange sort)
1 3/4 c SR flour
3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla
60g butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk

stick the sweet potato in the oven at 180 degrees, skin on, for about an hour or so, until really tender. Allow to cool, then split open the skin and scoop out the deliciously caramel flesh. Mash roughly with a fork or the back of a spoon. Combine with the melted butter, egg, fresh ginger, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until combined.
In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar and spices and make a well in the center. Pour in the sweet potato mix and fold together with a knife or spatula. It's really important not to over-mix, you want it to just come together in a thick batter with some small lumps. If it seems too dry add a splash of normal milk to loosen the mix.
Once combined, spoon into muffin cases and bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and honey if desired.

An option is to sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a mix of finely diced crystalised ginger and raw sugar before baking for a yummy crunchy top.

These were sooo yummy that the whole batch disappeared before I could take a photo! A great way to get veg into fussy kids!

Pixel Magix rock!!!

A BIG BIG thank you goes out to Kylie and Mike of Pixel Magix who brought fun and exuberant energy to Martin's and my wedding day. These guys were the most amazing photographers; they were super funny yet professional, brilliant with the hoards of kids and most of all, they helped us to relax and enjoy what will be a memorable day for the rest of our lives.

Check out some of the amazing shots taken here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


okay okay...

I admit, I've been lazy in posting in the last month, but not without good reason.
Firstly let me just say that the 30 day thing was a pain in the ass and I'm not going to finish it...and honestly I never do finish things like that, so if you see me start one again, please pinch me! {But on that note, my waterymelon didn't make it...due to some rather greedy kangeroo's who felt the need to demolish anything remotely green in my garden!! Kangaroo Stew! That's all I'm saying.}
So the last month or so in a few happy snaps:
going back to early feb...this went off to Meet me at Mikes for the I Heart Mirabel challenge. I hope it got there in time!!

Valnetines Dinner: Slow roasted pork belly with seared scallops and chilli jam. Super dooper yummy!

The birthday girl. Absolutely thrilled with her coconut and strawberry cake.

Making fig jam with figs plucked from a sprawling roadside tree. With just a hint of ginger and scraped vanilla seeds.

the boys looking all handsome on the wedding day.

exchanging vows on the jetty...

the children being cute...

most gorgeous flower girl...doing an outstanding job!

work in progress...this is a 'quilt' to be entered into the 'Stitched and Bound' Competition. I have just 7 days to finish it and send off the images!!! eeeeeeek!more works in progress. I've been playing with paint again after many many years of having not. Some of my paints were so old I had to wrench the lids free with pliers!

These are unfinished works, but I'm really enjoying just playing around and finding a style that suits me.Something to do between bouts of stitching like a madwoman!

Now, since it's taken me about 3 hours to upload these photo's (dial-up!!!) I'm going to bed.