Monday, 18 November 2013


Tobias, the Girafonte

Family fables are wonderful.  And so it was that a grandfather created stories about Tobias, an animal who was half Hippo and half Giraffe. Against all odds, Tobias's parents fell in love although they were a mixed union, one being a hippo and one being a giraffe.  Tobias was a sweet boy but usually found himself having difficulty fitting in. The others in Hippo school didn't quite know what to make of him, and neither did the children in Giraffe school.  Yet, he usually found his way into their hearts with his sweet and giving nature.  This little quilt is an illustration of the time he saved young Ify from drowning in the river Nile and falling prey to a crocodile.  The other giraffes from the school house windows watch in amazement as Tobias saves the day.
Janos Fenjves, Tobias's creator, was a great story teller, and delighted children for many years with his stories about an oddball who didn't quite fit in anywhere, but worked hard to enrich the lives of those around him. An autiobiographical theme as Janos was one of the many who survived the war only to find himself trying to build a life in a strange land.  Janos passed away one year ago, and his loss is still greatly felt.  We hope that illustrating his Tobias stories will help him remain in our memories and create new opportunities for great stories of outsiders fitting in, for many generations to follow.  

DetailThis quilt was created using both hand dyed and commercial fabrics, appliqued, with satin stitch, free motion.

The worried giraffes watch Tobias come to the rescue

Ify clings to Tobias

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Dyed Trees


This piece measures 64 inches wide and 26 inches in height.
The size was determined by the space in the client's home, she specifically wanted a 'painting' to hang over her bed.  All she asked for was trees, and left the rest up to me.

Detail:  I worked in layers with procion MX dyes.  The layers were painted on with brushes. I created the resists with masking tape (for the trunks and the clouds).

After the dyes were set and dried, I added details with free motion machine stitching. I deliberately did not add batting and quilt since this was intended to be a painting.  I added stabiliser to the back to support the stitching.

Since this piece was so wide, it was a challenge to photograph well in its entirety, so I took another photo that is cropped.

my friend enjoying tranquility
This work was inspired by the views of the from my beloved cottage in the woods. This is a photo of my niece exploring.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fibonacci Curve

 Fibonacci Curve

I created this piece inspired by the discovery that Fibonacci made; that most creations of nature have this curve intrinsic to their construction.  The multiples are created by adding the length of the last 2 dimensions together for the next.  An obvious reference is a spiral of a sea shell, but if you look closely, you can find evidence of this design very frequently in the natural world. 

Once I created the blocks the notion of a bird on top of a head came to me  (the mind is a wondrous thing!) and thus "BirdBrain" was birthed.  This quilt is 39" wide by 24 " tall.
Detail of the hand which was sketched with free motion stitchery from one piece of cloth.  The illusion of depth in the palm was created with ink.

detail of face created with hand embroidery as well as free motion stitchery. the face  (as well as the entire curve is embellished with beads.

detail of the brain created with hand embroidery and embellished with sparkly beads, because; despite feeling like a bird brain most of the time,  my brain is always firing with new ideas!

detail of the bird's feathers created with hand embroidery. 

This quilt was shown in The Festival of Quilts 2013 in Birmingham, England.  

The Judges comments were:

"Lovely use of beads and the decorative stitching adds interest and dimension.  Well constructed-well done!"


"Beautiful embroidery skillfully worked, and a fun and thought provoking theme."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

painting with dyes

This piece is 65" wide and 27" tall:  There are several layers of Procion dyes on it, and between each layer, the piece was cured for at least 24 hours.  My intention now it to sew over it with free motion work to create details.

Painting with dyes on whole cloth: PFD cotton

the inspiration for the work can be seen behind it.

stay tuned for the next stage!

family fun dyeing t-shirts

I had lots of helpers re-stringing the clothes line to hang the finished projects

Dyeing with procion M-x dyes and PFD cotton t-shirts from Dharma

very proud of his creative expression

not everyone was as thrilled with the activity

hanging to dry after the first rinsing

enjoying their t-shirts but probably enjoying each other more!

The whole family was happy with their arty creations.  This fun activity was enjoyed by those who had confidence in their creative talents as well as those who were less confident.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

circle vests redux

Over dyed circle vest:  PFD jersey cotton dyed repeatedly with Procion MX.

You may remember I created these vests out of cotton jersey.  They are a full circle with two oval cut outs, slightly off centre so there is a short side and a longer side.  I began by using a batik method of resist.  Then I dyed them all with Procion MX dyes.  Unfortunately I was disappointed with the results.  They felt too "hippie" for me.  So I have over dyed them and these are the results.  I am much happier with the toned down more uniform look.  You can still see the hand dyed work, but it is more subtle.

One size fits all!

Wearing the same vest but upside down, it becomes shorter with a wide collar.

the wide collar then can become a hoodie.

As you may be able to tell from the pictures I am now at my home in the woods.  Luckily I have a screened in porch where I can play with  my dyes to my heart's content.  I would like to thank my friend Sandra who was here visiting from Edmonton and my sister Vicky who helped me out with modelling the vests in their reincarnation.

Monday, 24 June 2013

log cabins, old traditions with a twist

 This spring I received the very exciting news that there would be some new babies in my world.  I took the opportunity to take a bit of a break from the hard work of design and retreat into the comfy cosy world of log cabins.  I also thought this would be a great way to bust up the growing stash of bits and pieces that I cannot bear to throw away.  This first one was made up entirely of my scraps, (except for the bright striped border)  the logs are one inch wide and I quilted in the ditch using a free-motion foot.
Log Cabin Quilt;  31 inches wide by 52.5 inches long. 

In the details, you can see that I decided to insert a 3 dimensional element between each block, this created some serious complications, but babies love texture, so I thought it would be fun.  I used the border fabric to brighten it up.


This is the back of the quilt. I decided, to be true to the original concept, I needed to continue using my scraps, and so began with 2 extra blocks and grew the back from there.  I think it has a bit of a wonky, gees bend feel to it.

Since I had SO much stash, I decided to make a 2nd one.  This time I laid the blocks out slightly differently and so the final size is 36 inches wide by 46.5 inches long. I decided to forgo the flange around each block and so it has a much neater look.  However I couldn't give up on the idea altogether and therefore the navy border is pieced dark blue scraps, 1.5 inches wide, folded and inserted just before the light binding. 
2nd Log Cabin Quilt , Detail

This is the back of the 2nd log cabin which was also made from scraps, beginning with 2 extra blocks.  This exercise was fun, with lots of sewing, since the logs were so thin. Gave me an opportunity to get into the 'zen' of sewing again.

Friday, 7 June 2013

chinese inspirations

 Two weeks in China

 I was overwhelmed with the amount of ornamentation, colour, and decoration.  Too much is never too much!

Walkway, rich in colour.
Bright silk hangings, all hand embroidered, yards and yards long.
Ceiling paintings imbedded amongst the patterned tiling, each painting was a different animal, based on a Chinese fable.

Children are clearly cherished, and are also very embellished

We saw many babes in arms with bare bums, not clear what the toilet training techniques are in China. Fascinating!

Koi fish tiling embedded in the pathway of a bonzai park
Ornate doesn't begin to describe it

 Silk painting
Jade carving

Silk thread painting


Our journey to China inspired me to consider new attitudes towards embellishment and ornamentation.  The Chinese craftperson clearly has a tremendous ability to attend to detail and develop technique to a remarkable degree.  But, I do wonder about individuality and personal statements.  It seemed to me that the people we met still worry about what the 'right' thing is to say.  Face saving is very important.  I marvel at my freedom in Canada, to do, say, and create anything that I want.