Gloria Loughman Trunk Show

14 06 2011

On the Friday night of the Gloria Loughman retreat, Gloria showed some of her amazing landscape art quilts and described the methods she used and the story behind each quilt.

Below are some pictures of the quilts from this trunk show — click on a small image to see it full size, then click on it when it’s full size to see it even larger.

Gloria Loughman retreat

14 06 2011

I had the privilege of attending a quilting retreat on the weekend, organised by my friend Michelle from Handcrafters House in Midland, Western Australia, and taught by one of Australia’s most well-known and internationally recognised landscape art quilters, Gloria Loughman.

On the Friday night, Gloria had a ‘trunk show’ where she showed some of the quilts she and her previous students had made. Baggage limits meant she wasn’t able to bring along some of the big quilts that feature in her books, but what we saw was inspiration enough.

This weekend’s theme was ‘Escape to the Rainforest’ and we learned how to paint backgrounds on fabric (a new experience for me — it was fun and opens up a whole lot of possibilities), as well as how to create a sense of depth and dimension in any scene.

For our ‘rainforest’, we could either use the tree and leaf motifs that Gloria provided, or work from a tree or forest picture of our own. All day Saturday (and into Saturday night) and most of Sunday was spent creating our landscape, the quilt top.

I chose to do a single tree from a photo I’d taken a few weeks back.

Tree picture I used as inspiration

Tree picture I used as inspiration

I was able to get to the point where almost all my surface stitching was done, so I’ve only got a little to finish before putting on borders, then layering it with batting and backing fabric and quilting it. Unfortunately, I was totally immersed in the process and forgot to take pictures as I went (!), so you can’t see how a plain white piece of fabric got transformed into this piece via paint, more paint, and then fabric, more paint, more fabric and stitching — you can only see the almost end result!

My fabric tree

My fabric tree

Stitching detail - grass and trunk

Stitching detail - grass and trunk

Stitching detail - leaf clusters and trunk

Stitching detail - leaf clusters and trunk

It was a terrific weekend — great learning, great people, great organisation (thanks Michelle), great teacher (Gloria is a born teacher and really generous with her time and really friendly; she joined in everything, and she and her husband seemed to really relax and enjoy themselves), and great food, location, and hosts (Avalon Homestead, Toodyay).

Update July 2011: It’s finished!


Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1985

9 06 2011

Last night we drank a bottle of wine with dinner, but not just any bottle of wine. We drank a 1985 Vintage Penfolds Grange Hermitage! Why? Because it was my husband’s birthday and I was cooking rib eye on the bone for our dinner, and this wine was reputed to be at its peak. I bought this bottle for my husband back in the early 1990s and gave it to him for Christmas. Unfortunately, this sort of Christmas present can’t be opened for 15 to 20 years, so it’s been a long wait for him!

Why did we decide to drink it now? Well, we had opened some dozen or so Penfolds Bin 389s (1990 and 1991 vintages) a few weeks back, and without exception, we had to throw every one of them out — the wine was well past its peak and had turned sour. Very sour. That was SO disappointing, so we decided we’d better drink some of the older wines we’d been keeping for ‘special occasions’ sooner rather than later. Which meant we took another look at the Grange.

A few hours before dinner, my husband opened the bottle (the cork shattered as he tried to remove it, though the seal was good). He then decanted it to let it breathe — and to remove the floating bits of cork. We drank it from Reidel glasses, with a large bowl suitable for red wine.

So what does a $500 bottle of 1985 Grange taste like? (Yes, $500 is around the average price per bottle for this wine on the internet; I think I paid about $75 or $90 for it when I bought it back in the early 1990s — a LOT of money for a bottle of wine then… and now!)

Here’s my (very amateur) assessment of this wine, which was a 99% shiraz/1% cabernet sauvignon mix:

  • Nose: Lovely aroma, but not as full as I expected
  • Colour: Rich earth/plum tones
  • Palate: Very smooth and mellow, with reasonable tannins that exploded in the mouth when I swished it around. But I was surprised (and disappointed) that it finished quite short and didn’t linger in either the mouth or the back of the throat.

Overall, was it worth $500? In my opinion, no.

Yes, it was probably at its prime for drinking, and it matched well with the food, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t as full-bodied as I expected for a shiraz. That said, I’ve never had Grange before, so perhaps my expectations were wrong. It was very nice, but I suspect that in a blind tasting I wouldn’t have picked it as my favourite as it was a little too smooth for a shiraz — for my palate, anyway.

We have one other bottle of Grange left — a 1990 vintage, I think. So when we open that one in about a year’s time, we’ll see how it compares. According to internet reviews and pricing at the moment, it’s a ‘classic Grange’ and resells for around $750+ a bottle! Yikes!

Penfolds Grange 1985 - empty!