MacGyvering a design wall

15 07 2018

I really needed a decent design wall in my sewing room. I’d been making do with a ‘portable’ one I’d created from the Australian equivalent to foam core board, which I’d bought some years ago from a picture framing business.

(Aside: Australian hardware stores don’t sell foam core board; in fact it’s very hard to get here. Why? Because we build and insulate our houses differently to those in the US. Most housing in my state is double brick outer walls, with single brick inside walls. We don’t build with timber, though some cheaper houses may have an internal timber frame, and many have timber struts/frames for the roof, though steel is more common in newer houses. Our insulation tends to be ceiling insulation [not wall — it just doesn’t get that cold here] and comes as batts or blown-in fibrous material. As a result, it’s almost impossible to buy the sort of ‘foam core board’ that’s readily available in US stores such as Home Depot.)

I’d been toying with the idea of creating my own design wall based on something I’d seen on the internet (see: https://thequiltshow.com/daily-blog/142-newsletter/27057-hope-yoder-easy-quilting-design-wall-tutorial/). And I finally got around to it. Off I went to Bunnings (the Australian equivalent of Home Depot), and purchased several sheets of acoustic panelling (principally used for pin-up/bulletin boards) in various sizes, then wrapped them in batting, stretching then stapling the batting down, and finally using duct tape to cover the staples on the back. Next, I stuck down some 3M Command Strips (the ones that hold 7 kg weight) on the back—one at each corner, so theoretically capable of a 28 kg load per design wall panel.

Then I stuck the two narrow panels to the wardrobe door in my sewing room (using every available space!), and the 3 larger panel to the only spare wall in my sewing room. Finally, I pinned up some of my art quilts—both finished ones that I can’t hand anywhere else, and those in progress.

I’m pleased with the result! And so far (several week on), the Command Strips are holding up beautifully.





Community Quilts 396 to 411

15 07 2018

I’ve been busy with all sorts of things in the past couple of months, so while I’ve quilted 15 quilts and taken photos of them, it wasn’t until today that I got around to processing the photos and putting them up on this blog. Because I’ve forgotten what I did and what threads I used for most of them, I’ve put all into this one post. I’ve only made comments for any that were exceptional for some reason.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

Community Quilt 396

Community Quilt 397

Community Quilt 398

Community Quilt 399

Community Quilt 400

Community Quilt 401

Community Quilt 402

Community Quilt 403

Community Quilt 404

Community Quilt 405

For this one, I used one of templates designed by Cindy Needham for the star pattern in the blocks.

Community Quilt 406

I used more of Cindy Needham’s templates for the flower motif in the borders, and for the sweeping curves in the outer border. I then echoed the sweeping curves, crossing over them to create a ribbon effect.

Community Quilt 407

Community Quilt 408

Community Quilt 409

Community Quilt 410

Community Quilt 411

This quilt was similar to #400 (above), with all that candlewicking. As with #400, I stitched around each of the main embroidery lines, then echoed them, then did MacTavishing in the blocks to make the embroidered areas ‘pop’.

 

 

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157630291250200/





2018: Annual winter retreat in Bridgetown

10 07 2018

For the past nine years, five quilting friends have gathered in Bridgetown, Western Australia for our annual 4-day winter retreat at the home of one of our group. It’s a weekend away from our normal lives, and a time for us to spend many hours sewing, talking, laughing, eating, drinking, hanging out in our PJs, great food, and roaring log fires. For the past few years since he retired, our host’s husband has been in residence too, so there’s us five, plus our ‘man slave’ (not really—he’s just one of us, though he doesn’t quilt; he plays golf and does woodwork and photography instead). But this year there were just four of us girls—one of our group just couldn’t make it. The pressure of her work meant she had to bail this time, something we’ve sort of expected for a while, as she’s super busy and burns many candles at all ends.

We stopped doing challenges a few years ago as it was getting too much of a time commitment for the two who own quilt stores; I work part-time, so it wasn’t such a stretch for me; and the other two are retired.

This year, I decided to do a stash busting exercise—making Xmas placemats for our state guild’s Community Quilts program. These will go to people in retirement villages and nursing homes, possibly hospitals. So I took all my scrap red, green, and white fabrics, matching backings, and batting scraps with me, and sewed up a storm. I ended up making 25 placemats (all 18 x 12 inches). Most were done using improv methods of joining random bits of fabric, and after making the tops, I backed, sandwiched and quilted them, then finished them off with machine-sewn binding.

Here they are in various stages of completion (click on a photo to view it larger). Below the photos of the placemats are photos of just a small section of the yarn bombing in Bridgetown’s main street for their annual Winter Festival—this year locals made tens of thousands of yarn decorations (I think it was more than 30,000!) and the yarn bombing was even judged for a Guinness World Record! One of the people who coordinated it was Ann, the owner of Sew Gentle Era, the local quilt and yarn store.

Yarn bombing:

 





May storms

27 06 2018

I’ve been a bit lax writing new blog posts and putting up recent photos.

A month ago (around 25 May) we had a big storm front come through, finally heralding winter after a very long mild autumn. The black swans that normally float serenely on the very calm estuary were tossed around on the wind-driven waves, and I saw a bunch of them huddled on the shore on my drive home from town. The writhing black mass of them reminded me of tadpoles in a small puddle struggling to survive.

There was a high tide combined with the strong winds, too, so water inundated places where it doesn’t normally go.

 

A few days later, after it had all calmed down, the swans were back doing what they do. This group were bunched around a stormwater channel that spills into the estuary from the paddocks on the other side of the road. Obviously, they found something good to eat there, but they swam away quickly when they heard me get of the car to take their picture.





When naturalisation means nothing

4 06 2018

I’ve been researching various parts of my family tree on and off since the mid-1990s. Most of it has been inconsequential — no famous lives, no famous connections, no connections to Australian convicts, no scandals that I can find. Just ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.

Like every non-Aboriginal person in Australia, I come from a mixed, multicultural, immigrant background — South Africans on one side (going back to the Huguenots moving out of Europe in the 1500s and 1600s), English and German (Prussian really) on the other. Although I can find out quite a bit online about the English and the South Africans (those Lutherans certainly kept detailed family records!), finding out about my German ancestors has been much harder — I don’t speak or read German, and my ancestors lived in a place that has variously been under the control and jurisdiction of  Prussia, Poland, Germany, Sweden, and Russia, among others. Two world wars in the area also mean that many records have been lost forever, and even when you can find records, many are written in languages (such as Old German) that are almost extinct. Knowing the name of a town doesn’t help — town names have changed as various countries controlled the Prussian region, and often bear little resemblance to the current name (e.g. Posen [Prussia] became Bomst [Germany] and is now known as Babimost [Poland] — only the ‘o’ survived!; Marienburg [Germany) became Malbork [Poland], etc.). And the names of people have changed too — when my German branch came to Australia, they anglicised their name (or it was anglicised for them); e.g. a name like Wiegmann could easily have become Wigman or Wegman, or something else entirely. What this means is that this branch of my tree is hard to trace.

So kudos to my uncle for going to Germany and Poland a few years ago to find out more about his grandfather’s family (my great grandfather). My uncle was able to get the correct name (my great grandfather was named Johannes, but he was known in Australia as James), the name of the town he came from, and some other records — enough to continue to research James’ life once he came to Australia in the 1890s, at the age of 23.

By 1900, when he married my great grandmother, James was living on the Western Australian goldfields and working on the gold mines and the power stations as an engine driver (likely called an engineer these days). They went on to have 5 children. In 1903, he became a naturalised British subject (Australian citizens weren’t known as that then — they were known as British subjects), with all the ‘rights and capacities of a natural-born British subject’ (see first document below).

During the 1900s and early 1910s, James was an expert marksman, receiving certificates and awards from the military through the local rifle club. He was well-liked and newspaper articles of the day (as well as employment references my uncle found in the National Archives) show that he was reliable, sober, and a hard worker. He and his family continued to live in the Kalgoorlie area, and he continued to work as an engine driver for various gold mines, holding down jobs for several years at a time.

And then came the Great War.

Family folklore has it that the family was forced out of town because they were German, and that they came to Perth where they set up a vegetable market garden and poultry farm. No more engine work for James. By the outbreak of World War 1, his children ranged in age from 9 months to 13 years. Three of them were at school, and were no doubt ostracised there too. Remember, this was the family folklore. I didn’t have verification, or dates.

My uncle hunted the National Archives and found the document (below) that verified this tale, and in many ways it is worse than the family folklore led us to believe. James was ‘reported to be an enemy subject’, his ‘natural born British subject’ status is questioned (despite his Certificate of Naturalization 1903 stating that he has the ‘rights and capacities of a natural born British subject’, and it is stated that ‘advice has been received’ (advice from whom? gossip? allegations? someone who didn’t like him?) that he has ‘pronounced German sympathies’.

All this happened in September 1916, some two years after he’d lost his job at the Main Reef Gold Mine because he made ‘disloyal utterances’. He was 45 at this time, and had lived in Australia almost his entire adult life. His Certificate of Naturalization meant absolutely NOTHING.

I’m not sure what happened between 1916 and 1919, or where the family was living, but by mid 1919 he had purchased some land in Perth for a poultry and vegetable farm (by this time the children’s ages ranged from 6 to 18 years). More police investigations into his ‘allegiances’ followed as to whether he was a ‘proper’ person to own land, and he wasn’t granted Certificate of Title to that land until 2.5 years later.

I can’t imagine how harrowing this was for James, his wife, and the whole family. All their children (all born in Australia) were brought up in an environment where they could have seen their father taken to prison or a prisoner of war camp at any time — all because he publicly stated he wouldn’t fight against Germany because he still had family living there (his parents, 5 brothers and 3 sisters, and 2 step-brothers and 3 step-sisters).

What makes me particularly angry is that he was officially a British subject, and had been for some 11 years before World War 1 started. But that meant diddly. The parallels with what’s happening with immigrants in Britain and the US today are frightening.

Note: I had no idea what a ‘non-efficient member’ of a rifle club was, so I looked it up. There’s not much, but this letter to the editor from 1909 explains it quite well [Source: “RIFLE SHOOTING.” Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA : 1905 – 1952) 6 March 1909: 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74881360]:





Smoky sunsets

24 05 2018

We’ve had the warmest and driest May almost on record. It’s been an ideal time for the fire services to do burn-offs and reduce the fire fuel before the winter rains set in. As a result, we’ve had some stunning sunsets the past few weeks because the smoke has created all sorts of weird light filtering.

Here are some photos of the sunset over the estuary that I took on the way back from the shops a week or so ago. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t seem to capture the blood red of the sun that the human eye sees, but no matter — I thought some of these shots turned out pretty well. And the one where it looks like rain? That was smoke particulates dropping out of the sky! I’d never seen that before, and the black swans didn’t seem too perturbed by it (yes, those black dots on the water are our native black swans).

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Iggy Marley: Susan Carlson workshop

24 05 2018

The lovely Susan Carlson was in Perth a couple of weeks ago to run a 4-day workshop at Handcrafters House. There were 120 people on the ‘expressions of interest’ list for only 20 places, and I was lucky enough to get a spot! I’d first come across Susan’s unique style of fabric collage some years ago in Quilting Arts magazine and had used her techniques to make a fish. That fish now lives in Alaska! Then in 2014, Susan was one of the teachers at Empty Spools, Asilomar; she was my second choice after Pam Holland (I got into Pam’s class, so they didn’t need to go to my second choice).

For this class, we had to use a photo or drawing, blow it up nice and big, then start cutting out scraps of fabric and gluing them on to create our fabric collage art quilt. In 4 days we made a real mess and had a lot of laughs! There were bits of fabric EVERYWHERE, but I think we had had a lot of fun and pushed our boundaries. Most people went wild with their colour choices, and their subjects ranged from patterns Susan had, through to favourite pets and people. Even a set of work boots and a hard hat!

I love lizards of all varieties, so chose to do an iguana. I found a copyright-free picture in the British Library’s archive of old books and illustrations. The artist had listed the Latin name of the species, which had the common name of ‘Jamaican Iguana’, so I named him ‘Iggy Marley’ — ‘Iggy’ for iguana, and ‘Marley’ because of the Jamaican connection to Bob Marley and his son Ziggy Marley (no, I don’t know if my iguana was a male, but he is now). These Jamaican Iguanas are typically in shades of greens and browns to blend in with the vegetation where they live, but I chose to go wild and do him in oranges and purples — I want him to stand out against the background, once I choose it.

Some of the photos of my process and progress are below. Iggy’s not finished yet, and it might be a while before I get back to him. Deciding on the background (realistic or stylistic) is my hardest issue with him right now. But for the moment, I’m pretty pleased with how he looks, though I might change the green on his ‘crop’ and instead do an orange folded piece…. decisions, decisions….

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

See also: Susan’s blog post about this class and her time in Perth: https://susancarlson.com/2018/06/02/on-the-road-perth-australia/