Everyone’s getting behind Freo

27 09 2013

It’s the AFL Grand Final tomorrow and for the first time in their 19-year history, the Fremantle Dockers (aka Freo) are one of the contenders. Back in the day my nephew played for them, and I used to be a member and go to all the home games in Perth.

Today — Grand Final eve — I popped into town to do some shopping and pretty much every store was decorated with purple balloons etc. But two decorations took my eye. Coles had done a display of purple and cream potatoes, and the Home Hardware store had decorated two of their garden ornament kangaroos in the opposing team uniforms — there was even a gap for the joey’s head to pop out!





2013 Challenge

26 09 2013

Last weekend was my annual quilt retreat weekend with ‘the girls’. This year Michelle set our challenge — an abstract of one of the five senses. The sense I picked out of the hat was taste; the others selected one of the other four senses at random.

I’m continually blown away by the creativity of my friends when we do these annual challenges, and this year was no exception. Here’s how we interpreted (in abstract) our selected sense… (Click on a photo to view it larger.)

Michelle: Smell

Michelle titled her art quilt ‘Odiferous’ (aka ‘Whiffy Wafts’!), with the hombre (?) fabrics graduating from small whiffs to full on wafting smells. I love how she used the graduated light to dark grey fabrics in the border especially, and the graduated coloured fabrics for the wafts. And her quilting was to die for — so small and detailed! The entire quilt is about 30×36″, so it’s not big.


Glenys: Sight

Glenys knew what she wanted to do as soon as she got her challenge last year 😉 Sight = eyes = optical illusions, so she created this stunning — and big — black and white quilt that changes shape as you look at it from different angles. at times, the centre pops like a big orb, and from other angles, you can see a huge ‘X’. But the reality is that it’s all an illusion — every black and white block is the same size and shape. The illusions are created by the placement of the small appliqued black and white squares in the centre blocks.


Flora: Hearing

Flora had lots of discussions with her husband and grandsons on how to approach her selected sense: ‘hearing’. Her grandsons were keen on her doing something with music, particularly guitars. Flora’s an embroiderer so she added quite a bit of hand stitching and small and large beads as embellishments to her lovely guitar-themed art quilt, which is based on Robbi Joy Eklow‘s style of abstracting objects such as guitars.


Bobbie: Touch

Bobbie blindfolded us (thanks Qantas for all those eye masks I’ve kept over the years ;-)) and got us to come up to her big cutting table where we had to feel different parts of her quilt (certain bits stuck out, were soft, hard, feathery etc.). As with many of her quilts, her inspiration was the earth and the seasons. Her tree limbs are feet digging into the ground and hands reaching for the sky, and she incorporated aspects of all of nature’s seasons going around the quilt. She machine embroidered the apple blossoms and the snowflakes (?), and the texture in the summer and autumn leaves comes from the batik fabrics she used for them. Her quilting for each season and sky/earth aspect reflects that season or element of nature. This is a large quilt and now has pride of place in Bobbie’s entry hall!




Rhonda: Taste

I also blindfolded the girls, then fed them small pieces of citrus fruits — lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange — to see if they could distinguish between sour, bitter and sweet. Most spat out the lime, lemon, and grapefruit and were glad that a piece of sweet orange was at the bottom of the bowl I’d given them 😉 Once they’d removed their blindfolds, I revealed my piece, which I’d mounted on black batting on a portable design wall. I got lots of ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ and some ‘OMGs!!’, with Michelle saying that I MUST MUST enter this piece in next year’s QuiltWest. Each panel is about 15×21″(details on the process for creating this piece start here: https://rhondabracey.com/2013/09/20/2013-challenge-coming-to-a-decision/)






And then the reveal was all over for another year. We’re taking a break from a formal challenge in 2014 — three of us are still working and two in particular are finding it hard to complete the challenge in amongst life, work, family and all sorts of other commitments.

However, our ‘challenge’ for 2014 is to come up with at least three challenge themes each to go into a hat for future years. We’ve now been doing the challenge and retreat at Bobbie’s beautiful house for five years, so we’ve each had a go at setting a challenge. I know I’ve learned an awful lot by pushing and extending myself in these challenges, and I’m sure the others have too.

Finally, one of the things we do on the evening that we do the reveal is have ‘show and tell’ of some of the other things we’ve worked on during the year, so these next photos are from ‘show and tell’. Mine aren’t included as I couldn’t take photos as well! If I get photos of mine from the others, I’ll add them later.


Bobbie’s blue and white double wedding ring quilt that she started in 2012 — all finished!


Glenys’ cat quilt, also started in 2012


One of the quilts Glenys made for her shop to feature some of the new Halloween fabrics. Just love that owl!


Another that Glenys made for her shop featuring hexagons in a particular fabric range


One of Gleny’s staff made this hexagon quilt. Heaven knows how she did that binding!


This was a community quilt I worked on over the weekend. I took the photo to show the effect that quilting has on a quilt — it was quite plain with just ‘stitch in the ditch’ as you can see in the area of the lower right, so the community quilt ladies asked me to liven it up a bit.


One of the pieces Michelle worked on during the weekend — this will be a banner for her shop’s stand at craft/quilt fairs. One of her staff did the centre applique work — Michelle did the stunning quilting in just a couple of hours on Bobbie’s Sweet Sixteen.

On my way to my annual quilting retreat…

22 09 2013

I forgot I had these photos on the camera! Our annual quilting retreat was held on a very stormy weekend in September (we usually have GORGEOUS springtime weather). The drive down for me on the Friday morning was a white knuckle one for about 40 km or more (Boyanup to Kirup, for those familiar with the south-west of Western Australia) as the rain was super heavy and the wind was howling. It took me 90+ minutes to do a drive that normally takes about 75 minutes.

Here’s a photo from the car of the weather up ahead (I was north of Dardanup at this stage, so it hadn’t hit with a vengeance — yet…):


And between Dardanup and Boyanup there’s a patch on the road where you can see that the dairy cows cross regularly. In all the years I’ve travelled on that road, I’ve never seen the cows crossing, but they were crossing that Friday morning 😉 It was a big herd, too. The farmer had on wet weather gear but he was soaked — and splashed with all manner of cow excrement…


We had raging storms all Saturday and Sunday too, and on Sunday night, the last night of our retreat, the power went out about 11 pm. So we all went to bed, fully expecting the power to be back on the next morning. It wasn’t. Fortunately the people we were staying with had a wood tile fire linked into their hot water system, and a manual switch to switch over to town water from their usual rainwater tank, so the girls heading back to Perth got to have a shower next morning.

The power was out for our hosts (and their town and about four other surrounding towns) for well over 60 hours. Poor buggers.

Bali 2013: Other observations

20 09 2013

Here are some other observations about my trip to Bali. Nearly all relate to Perth International Airport and the flights on Garuda Indonesia.

Perth International Airport (PIA)

  • The upgrade to this tired airport can’t come soon enough. On leaving, we had to climb several flights of stairs to get to the jetway, and on our return, we got dumped on the tarmac several hundred metres from the terminal, had to come down an ancient set of roll-up stairs and walk through the rain to the terminal, then up more stairs to immigration etc. I don’t know how those who were in wheelchairs or using walking sticks got on, or those with very young children. An INTERNATIONAL airport? I don’t think so…
  • What is up with people???? If you are coughing, spluttering, and are obviously sick, for heavens sake put your hand over your mouth/nose at the very least!!! And use a tissue. SOOO many people were coughing and spluttering in the waiting area right next to the Qantas Lounge at PIA that I left and moved down towards the snack bars.
  • TAKE A SHOWER before you come to the airport and get on a plane! Cramped conditions and long flights (EVERY flight from PIA is a long flight — some much longer than others) mean that your body odour is sickening to your nearby passengers. To the young girl who plopped herself down two seats away from me at the waiting area for Malaysian Airlines, thank goodness I wasn’t on your flight and sitting next to you. I would have been physically ill had I not been able to change seats — your BO was that strong and obnoxious.
  • To the Velluto food people — PLEASE use some Tandoor ANYTHING in your Tandoori Chicken wraps. They had absolutely NO flavour and were like eating soggy cardboard. If the chicken had come anywhere near a Tandoor oven, I’d be very surprised. And I’d be surprised too if it had even been marinaded in a Tandoor sauce. Bland is too good a description for that waste of $9.50!
  • If you set a gate, then stick to it. Getting people to switch gates some 20 minutes before the flight isn’t convenient. Fortunately PIA only has five gates, and the area is small.
  • Be clear in your announcements. Garuda Flight 725 (to Jakarta) sounded very much like Garuda Flight 729 (to Denpasar), and quite a number of people ended up changing gates several times before realising that they were two different flights for the same airline leaving at approximately the same time.
  • If you sit near the Qantas Lounge, you can hook up to their free WiFi 😉

Outbound flight

  • I quite like Garuda — their staff are delightful, and the food’s pretty good. But there’s no excuse for not having ANY English language immigration entry cards on one of the their twice-daily flights from Perth to Denpasar. I can only think someone forgot to pack the correct bundle. Fortunately, I’d noticed an English version in the back of the airline magazine, so was able to complete the immigration and customs declaration without needing to try to figure out what the Bahasa Indonesian version said.
  • The flight left 45 minutes late, so was nearly an hour late into Denpasar. That was a long time for my 80+ year old parents and the driver to wait. Mum waited in an area full of mostly men in the middle of the night — while she was safe, it wouldn’t be something she would have enjoyed.
  • Farts on a plane. I think Qantas seats must have activated charcoal impregnated cushions as I rarely smell farts on a plane even on the long haul from Australia to the US. But on this flight, phew! There were some ripe ones… And it wasn’t one person either, as the smells varied. I’ll say no more.
  • The meal I had was a satay beef, which was nice, but needed some salt and/or pepper. None was provided in the cutlery pack, but the crew did bring them when asked.
  • No water was provided at all, unless asked for.
  • Flight was about half full, so the seat between me and the window seat passenger was empty. Bonus!

Denpasar airport (departure)

  • You go through at least three security and name/boarding pass checks at this airport (it may have been five or more). And when you’re finally in the passenger-only duty free area after having gone through immigration etc. you think you can do what you can do at every other international airport I’ve been to in the past decade or so, and that’s buy a bottle of water as you emptied your previous bottle before going through the security checks. And then you find that there’s ANOTHER security check just before you get on the plane and you have to toss that water bottle in a bin.
  • In this age of computers, why are people checking boarding passes BY HAND? I can’t recall that from last year, so maybe their computer checking systems were down. At least three of the checks were done by hand and marked off a printed list with pen.
  • There are nowhere near enough seats at this airport to deal with the passengers on a single flight, let alone many flights. Hopefully the new airport (due to open in a week or two) will have far better waiting facilities. If they want us at the airport at least 2 hours before the flight, then we need somewhere to sit.

Inbound flight

  • As for the outbound flight, this one was about half full. I was seated in a row with two adults and three kids under six. The mother suggested I ask to be seated two rows further back in an empty row — I was happy to oblige! I even got to spread out and lay down. However, there were another two young children behind me in the new row, one of whom (at least) had an awful cold/cough and did NOT cover his/her mouth/nose each time they coughed/sneezed/spluttered. I won’t be happy if I catch something…
  • Meal on the way home was a chicken curry, with a really HOT sambal in a packet (ABC brand, ‘Asli’?), which was excellent.
  • No water provided.


  • For an island dealing with rapid expansion of tourism and all the infrastructure changes and stresses that entails, I was surprised to see very few dual flush toilets. I didn’t expect them in older places, but I did expect them in the new resort I stayed at (the block I was in is less than two years’ old). I would have thought that water on Bali was a very precious commodity, and that installing dual flush toilets would be mandatory.
  • Bali is one of the ‘spice islands’, so why did I only see ground white pepper? Not a crushed black peppercorn was sighted in any restaurant I visited.

2013 Challenge: The finished product

20 09 2013

I tried out a couple of arrangements of the four pieces on the black background. I think I like the side-by-side arrangement best, with some black showing through.

When we have the retreat, I’ll try to take some better photos on a solid wall 😉 These ones were taken in my sewing room and I was making do with what I had to display them, so everything is at a bit of an angle and I was using my phone’s camera, not a proper camera.

Meantime, I sent these photos to a quilting friend in Oklahoma, and her first reaction was ‘Citrus Explosion’ — I loved the name so that’s what this series is now called.

Update May 2014: I’ve had this quilt valued, and the certificate of valuation is below. However, the valuation only takes account the materials and techniques used and the quality of both — it takes no account of the time to learn the techniques nor the time taken to make the piece, which can be hundreds of hours.

Update September 2014: This piece featured in Down Under Quilts magazine (Issue 166, 2014), on both the editorial page and p62 in the feature on QuiltWest. Scans on those pages are below the valuation certificate.







_Valuation 2014_Citrus_explosion

Featured in Down Under Quilts magazine (Issue 166, September 2014):



See also:

2013 Challenge: The process

20 09 2013

I wanted the finished citrus piece to be quite large so I printed it across four pages on my printer, then cut the white off the edges and taped all pages together.

Next, I taped it to my sliding glass door so I had a ‘light box’ for tracing.


I traced the pattern onto tracing fabric, but realised that I didn’t need this at all, so that was a waste of time!


I then traced the pattern again, but this time directly on to the top fabric of the two pieces of fabric.


Next step was to layer the top fabric (with the traced outlines) onto the background fabric (right side up), batting, and backing fabric (right side down), and pinning it all together to create a quilt sandwich.


Stitching on the traced lines through all layers was next.


Then came the very delicate cutting process — delicate because I had to be careful to cut the correct pieces out otherwise it would look odd! I use applique scissors and really sharp-tipped embroidery scissors to cut close to the stitched lines.


I really liked the result of the first one, so I decided to do three more! I was thinking along the lines of Andy Warhol’s ‘Marilyn Monroe’ series…

Each one represents a different fruit — orange, lemon, lime, and pink grapefruit.




However, I’m not happy with the pink grapefruit one as I think the colourway is too different from the others. So I think the one I had designated as lemon will become an ordinary grapefruit, and I’ll do another one with yellower fabric for the lemon.

So that’s where I’m at as at mid-April 2013.

Of course, my brain is now contemplating how I’m going to display these four — perhaps five — pieces. Should I mount them on black — if so, in linear or offset formations? Should I add hanging tabs and slip a dowel through them to make them single items in a line united with a common theme? Should I cut them up and join them back together in different combinations? Or something else? Should I bind them or face them? So many more decisions….

They already have batting and backing, so I may be limited in how much I can do with them.

And of course, I still have to stitch down the raw edge applique so it doesn’t pull apart and quilt each piece more densely. And perhaps add fabric paint/markers too… Decisions, decisions…

No matter what I do, already more than 80 hours has gone into these pieces to get to where they are now, of which about 20 hours was the making to this point.

Update late April: I’ve now found fabric for the lemon piece and done that one. I’ve also scribble stitched the centres of all four pieces (I’m now using the pink one as my tester). That scribble stitching took HOURS and some 35,000 stitches EACH — just for the centres. But I do like the effect.



Update mid-May 2013: The next step was to quilt the segments. My initial attempts were too tight and small, so I opted for a larger, free-flowing wavy stitch in the same colour as the fruit. I quite liked the effect.


The next big decision is how to mount/display these quilts, and whether to use all five or just four of them in the final piece. That decision will affect how I bind them, or whether I do a curved piece for one edge, whether I do a faced binding, or a piped binding or something else. I’m going to wait a while on that decision — the Craft Fair in Perth in a couple of weeks time has a short workshop/demo I hope to attend on alternatives for finishing quilts, and maybe I’ll get inspiration from that, or from the quilts I see on display at the QuiltWest exhibition.

Update June 2013: I wanted to emphasise the segments a bit more — give them some depth using shadows, so I got out my Copic markers (I bought 20 more at the Craft Fair!) and tested various colours on scraps of the various fabrics I’d used for the citrus pieces. Then I spent a whole afternoon adding shadows. I didn’t want to go too dark initially, as the marker ink seemed to want to have an edge even though I used the brush tip and a feather stroke from the stitching line into the segment. I might add a tad more dark, perhaps with the Inktense watercolour pencils I have.

I also decided to finish the pieces by making a full facing, a la a pillowslip, but sewing down the opening. And I wanted to add some body, so I cut large pieces of Floriani Stitch and Shape (single sided fusible) about half and inch smaller all round than the outer stitching line, then fused it to the back of the piece.

Then I cut pieces of plain green and orange fabric for my backing fabric, making sure they were about one inch wider all round than the Stitch and Shape. Before stitching the backing pieces to the main sandwiches, I stitched on four Velcro hook pieces onto the right side of each piece of backing fabric so that I had the option to ‘hang’ these pieces onto a carpet/fabric display board, or similar.

I placed the backing fabric right side up, then placed the quilt sandwich (with the Stitch and Shape fused to it) right side down, checking that each side had sufficient backing fabric overlap, then pinned the layers together, leaving about 6″ on the ‘cleanest’ side for the opening.

Next I stitched about 1/8″ out from the edge of the Stitch and Shape all around, leaving the opening unstitched of course. That Stitch and Shape wasn’t going to hold its fuse, so after using its position for getting nice squared-off stitching, I ripped it off, but didn’t throw it away as I used it a few minutes later.

I trimmed the excess fabric about 1/2 inch away from the final stitching line, making sure I didn’t trim the opening. For that section I trimmed 1/” up to near the end of the stitching line, then used the rotary cutter freehand to swerve back out, leaving a decent amount of fabric to tuck in. Then I cut the excess fabric off the corners at a 45 degree angle just outside the stitching line, ready for turning out.

I turned the whole piece out to the front, pulling it through the opening. I used the end of an artist’s paintbrush to push out the corners, then finger pressed and ironed the edges (including the opening) so that no backing fabric showed on the front and the edges were nice and sharp.

Now came the fun part… putting the fusible back inside the ‘pocket’. I rolled it lengthways, then put it in the opening. Once it was mostly inside, I put my arm in and unrolled it, making sure that the fusible side was facing the front of the piece,  that all the corners went into the corners, and that all the turned-in seams sat underneath the fusible (i.e. facing the backing fabric). Then I tucked the opening over the fusible, again making sure that the fusible sat in front of the seam that was to come. I pinned the opening closed, then stitched it closed with invisible thread, running that stitching all around the outer edge of the piece (as for top-stitching).

The final stitching was done on the Sweet 16, again using invisible thread. I stitched around all main pieces of the citrus, the holes, and the two lines indicating the rind. Then I stitched the name of the fruit in the bottom right corner near the rind.

And it was done! Just a few more touch ups with the Copic markers over the next couple of weeks, and then to see how the series looked on a black background (black batting draped over my design wall board). The photos of the completed series are here: https://rhondabracey.com/2013/09/20/2013-challenge-the-finished-product/

See also:

2013 Challenge: The decision

20 09 2013

After tossing around a lot of thoughts in my brain for several months, I finally decided on citrus. I kept coming back to it — it was one of my first thoughts, and it kept popping into my head, so I figured that’s what it had to be. One of the things that attracted me to citrus was that various citrus fruits covered at least three of the five tastes — sweet (oranges, mandarins), sour (limes, lemons, and/or grapefruit) and bitter (limes, lemons, and/or grapefruit).

But what to do? I started manipulating some of the citrus images I had and eventually decided on this one:


I loaded it into www.dumpr.net to get a sketch of it:


But I didn’t think I could do much with that, so I played with the contours in PaintShop Pro and came up with this line drawing, which I coloured to show the various light and dark parts:


That was looking promising. Then I changed the colours:


Mmmmm… more promising… So I changed the colours again:


And I had it!

I could use the two-fabric ‘reverse applique’ technique I learned when I was making the ‘Herd of Turtles‘ quilts a month or so ago, and with some bright batik fabrics, I could get quite a bit of ‘texture’ happening. Eureka!

See also:

2013 Challenge: Coming to a decision

20 09 2013

My initial thoughts revolved around tongues, taste buds, and food. Then to the main taste sensations — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (savoury). Abstract was still my biggest issue.

Here are the scanned pages of my notes jotted down over several months.


Because my handwriting is crap these days, here’s the deciphered version of the page above:

  • Rolling Stones album with tongue
  • Food
  • Sweet and sour
  • Taste buds – cellular level
  • Sour – lemon, lime, orange
  • Lemon meringue pie — sweet and sour
  • Blissful taste — yellow, orange, red bursts (no, I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote that one down either!)
  • Sour taste — blue/green
  • Bitter/salt — black, purple, white, grey
  • Associate experience with something known, such as facial expressions in response to taste


Double page spread translation:

  • Square quilt (from Strativarious [book]) in yellow, orange, green with stitched words/shapes for lemons, limes, oranges
  • Blindfold examples as precursor to the reveal in September 2013 — lemon, lime, orange, licorice?
  • Sour, sweet, bitter, umami (savoury)
  • Words
  • plate with bowl, chopsticks, food etc. in 3D?? See Quilting Arts magazine, Feb/March 2013 p68 for ideas
  • Chilli/chocolate
  • Texas – chocolate [brown] whole cloth quilt (idea from Rayna Gillman)
  • No taste — flu, colds
  • Wasabi, chilli
  • Symbols, images, colours

And no, I don’t know what the Venn diagram means either 😉


Final page translation:

Cell structure [of]:

  • orange, lemon, lime
  • taste buds
  • milk fat
  • sugar crystals
  • chocolate

After making these notes over some months, it became obvious to me that either something cellular or to do with chocolate or citrus was likely going to be the end result.

I hunted through my photos of fruits etc. and scoured the internet for interesting images of cells and free photos of food etc., all the while looking for inspiration.

I narrowed the images down to a few, then played with manipulating them in PaintShop Pro, as well as trying to envisage how I would create a quilted piece from those digitisations. Some immediately eliminated themselves as just too hard, while others were still possibilities.

Here are some of the images I studied closely and some of the digital creations I made from them and from words (using www.wordle.net). For each of the fruits, I’ve shown the original photo first, then the digital creations from it (I went through MANY iterations of each before saving a result I thought would work). Note: The final decision is not on this page — it’s just to show some of the processes and ideas I had while coming to a decision (in late March/early April).





Kiwi Fruit





k9188-1_strawberry  strawberry02







wordle01 wordle02 wordle03


See also:

2013 Challenge: The challenge

20 09 2013

Michelle set the 2013 Challenge at our annual retreat last October. And what a challenge it was!

We had to choose a number from a bucket, then each number related to a goodies bag. Inside each goodies bag was a set of related items, and some instructions.

Here’s my bag:


Which contained these things:


And these instructions:


The bottom line is that my challenge is to create something related to the sense of TASTE and to make it abstract and to keep a journal of my thought processes.

Easy, huh? Not so much…. I can do realism; it’s the abstract I have difficulty with… And so it was to be for this challenge…

See also:

Bali 2013: Classic sign!

19 09 2013

This sign was under one of the shaded areas by the pool at the resort. The first paragraph is the usual stuff, but at the second paragraph it starts getting interesting… Read to the end!

(click on the photo to view it in a larger size)


If you find it hard to read, here’s the text:

Pool Safety and Health Regulations

To avoid any accident caused by a broken glass, sunken bar beverage service will be provided by plastic Camro glass. And staff member may refuse to serve you is you disobey these safety regulations, this is for your safety and your holiday pleasure.

Urinating at pool will cause a skin disease. Urine, chlorine and other water chemicals will result in a chemical reaction which is very dangerous to the skin. The first one who gets this reaction is the one who stay closest to the chemical reaction, and then spread out, and you don’t want to be the one who creates this, do you??

And if we find you did urinate in the pool, we don’t hesitate to cut it off!!

Love it 😉