Sunday, November 29, 2009

Montana World of Wearable Art

Nelson houses the museum of the World of Wearable Art. It is twinned with a classic car museum, I am guessing for spouses. Dennis opted for the cafe and a book! I was not allowed to take photos as I stood in awe and wonder but the local paper has a good slide show of winners from this years show here and the official site has past winners for you to drool over also. there are also books available from Craig Potton publishing ( or Amazon) - brother of Jenny Burton out apartment owner.

Silk painting

So here is how it worked: Jenny Burton (you know, I mentioned her - owner of the apartment) invited me into her studio and I got to see the work books and samples for the canopy I blogged about and some other work of hers. I suggested that she add textile courses on to her accommodation as an optional extra as she used to teach. She said that her friend Susanne Williamson was better set up for teaching - oh and Susanne sells stuff on the market under the name Unique Threads.

So off we went to market. In the rain. I found her stall. I stood for a while ( in a puddle I later deduced by the sogginess of my jeans hems, although I did not notice at the time) while she sold a scarf to a woman who liked them all but had a friend who told the buyer that almost every colour did not suit her. Then when Susanne came free I basically asked if could go to her house the next morning and be taught silk painting - and the amazing thing: she said yes!
So today, after a textile activity-less month I got to play. My samples and resultant scarf have to stay with her to be steamed and will be mailed home, but the photo shows my wet and salting scarf on the table - the pattern comes from a Maori war canoe. I can't wait it to see how it turns out. Does Dennis mind me disappearing for half a day? Well, you know: Man has TV controls. Man has international rugby union on Sky Sports. Man is happy.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Truly Excellent shops

Today I found two truly excellent shops thanks to the recommendation of Jenny Burton, the owner of the apartment we are in. Tula and Niles is just to the side of the catherdral and is a veritable emporium of beautiful things in this house of character.The American owner has the rare talent of being able to display a myriad of disparate items and create a cohesive whole.

Even the porch holds temptations!

And then the Bead Gallery. Its a house. Full of beads. and I mean full.

Its a wonder I ever got home!

New Zealand fabric

It is probably time I confessed to the New Zealand textile haul so far...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Toe Reading

For the next few days we are switching from being travellers to being on holiday. Which means switching from doing and seeing, frantically going, learning and meeting people to something more approaching mooching and browsing, being, resting and aimlessly pooteling around.

Which is how, in the Amsterdam Cheese Shop in Hardy Street, Nelson (which not only does a great line in pesto edam but also sells syrup waffles and speculaas and those delicious coloured sugar sprinkles the Dutch put on bread for breakfast) I found a leaflet containing the information below about the services of one Leny Maar. Now, let it not be thought that I would mock anyone's sincerely held belief but, well, lets just say it is nice to spread laughter throughout the world. And remember, the best is often in the punchline....

"Toe reading

Toe reading is a method used to analyse personality and behaviour of people by interpreting the shape and position of their toes. The shape of your toes is inherited but their position may change and is influenced by the way you respond to the stimuli of the outside world. It is often said that bad feet and crooked toes have been caused by badly fitting shoes. Such people accept the dictates of fashion and pay less attention to comfort.

What use is toe reading?
First of all, you will get to know yourself better after I read your toes. You will be able to follow your own developments and observe how you react to your environment. You will be able to determine accurately your possibilities, your strengths and your weaknesses. You will be able to easily observe how you are dealing with your emotions.

I am a certified registered Toe Reader."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I was delighted when we went to Wellington Cathedral to see this canvas work labyrinth sitting at the back of the nave. It was there for visitors to add stitches to. As you can imagine I enjoyed working on it throughout the evensong service. It was a question of filling in the gaps left by others. Could I remember all the fancy stitches I sampled for my City and Guilds? No siree!

The greens in this bit are the ones I did - follow the line from the green crosses down to the solid aquamarine and across the black and white hashes to the green again. All that is mine.
This is the second canvas they had put out. After the service the Dean came and nodded me over,"You've had a busy time," he said. "Have a look in here. Just pull the door to when you are done." Then he opened the door to the office and let me look at the first one.

Oh, and by the way, I have had maternal comment on my last post 'Not never coming home'. So can I just publicly say: Don't cry Mummy, I am coming home really. And to the rest of you, when I said the beach hut in which we changed fell into the sea, let me clarify that this was not some form of vacation child abuse. We changed into our swimming suits in it and then years later the cliff collapsed from erosion and the hut fell into the sea. There, is that all clear?!

Not never coming home

Today we left Wellington by Inter Islander ferry. It was forecast rough. It wasn't. A perfect journey. And at the other end... The Dog Box quilt shop. (Pricey and with a small stock and odd name but it didn't stop me having a good time!)Lunch was served with this view of Picton waterfront.

We then drove the Queen Charlotte Drive with views of the Marlborough Sound with a coffee break at Havelock and ended up at the Loft apartment at Villa 10 in Nelson . This is the view from the balcony where tomorrow I shall start the day with yoga.

My reading nook (Dennis can have the sofa - he does not appreciate the artiness of this enough) is all hand painted by the host textile artist Jenny Burton and the painting on the wall is by her sister Sally Burton.

Everything matches which is important to me and it has a lovely beach hut feel to it. Upmarket beach hut that is! (Not, if you are reading, parents, the kind of sandfilled beach hut we changed in in Cromer as a child which then fell into the sea).

The bed has, as you can see, a canopy by Jenny.

On the underneath of the top she has embroidered the resist dye patches to make a kind of planetarium cloth - which you can light up!

And around the edges, shibori dye and hand beaded fringes.

And although we shall be using this tiny sleeping loft to store the cases, look how well it is done!

We have five nights in this beautiful place which we intend to be very relaxed ones containing galleries, food and rest and reading. And just in case my five cases were not containing enough reading matter, the shelves in the hall contain, inter alia Art New Zealand magazine back copies and books about Wearable Art, New Zealand textile art and local artists talking about their art and food. Oh and there is a basket in the hall with piles of cloth slippers to choose from in different fabrics.
Henceforth, it is decreed, no one shall scoff ever again at the amount of internet research I do for verily, it has been proven good.

Welington girls day out

Yesterday, Helen Pedersen (right) and Catherine Hatfield came to Wellington to take me for a day out. Helen reads my blog and kindly comments so thats how we connected and Catherine is also a distance learner with Stitchbusiness doing the same course as I am. As our plan was to hit as many textile related things as possible I gave Dennis the camera so he could record more serious things like his visit to the Beehive. Where they took the camera off him. Sigh. So I have Helen to thank for these snaps.

Diana Parkes (centre below) had an exhibition of her work at a local gallery which we missed by a day or two but she kindly invited us to visit her studio and not only let us rummage through her sample books but also gave us a private explanation of each piece from the show. You can see more about her at her website.

For the record we managed four thread/fabric shops, one bead shop, lunch and Minerva the New Zealand Quilter bookshop. Plus an exhibit I saw the day before but didn't get to at the Deaprtment of Conservation where people had made items from discarded objects. If you scroll to the bottom of this link you can see some of the items.
Dennis meanwhile was equally excited about his day having got to sit in on Question Time at the Parliament. Ah well, each to his own.

Oh and we found this wall on a carpark. This is going in a quilt the moment I get back :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Going backwards from my last post - the first stop in NZ was Auckland after a great flight with seven hours deep sleep, aided by a complimentary pair of pyjamas!
We had an apartment overlooking the harbour of a cruise seemed otiose but we did take the ferry across to Devonport for the views. Dennis got a little distracted when, way down at the bottom of the hill he spotted a fire engine. Very exciting. Apparently.
Cushla's Village Fabrics got some custom but I haven't photographed the fabric yet so you will have to wait for that.

We also did the museum where I got completely overwhelmed and excited with ideas for quilt design and City and Guilds projects in the Maori section. At some time I will write an article on it for my website but for now this is a taster - just one of many woven panels from the meeting house and some traditional mok0 - facial tatoos. I have lots of sketchbook pages and had to go back the next day, via Parnell and the cathedral, to finish off the Polynesian rooms.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Te puia

Whilst in Rotorua I took the opportunity to go to Te Puia, a Maori cultural centre based around geothermal geysers. I arranged a private tour and we got a delightful guide who showed us the area and then spent an hour teaching me how to do the traditional poi dancing while Dennis sat there refusing to join in. The dance involved intricate swinging and flicking of poi which are actually sponge balls off thick cord. I can report that I had a great fun time and that with about a thousand hours more practice I could be quite good at it!

We ate food cooked in a hangi in the thermal springs and also went to the cultural tour. Our private guide had had a word with the people running the show and so Dennis got to be the chief of the tourists and had a major role to play in the welcome ceremony - picking up the welcome token and rubbing noses with the home chiefs. It was interesting - all the time we have been here he has told people we are from England. As soon as he was appointed chief his tribal instincts bubbled to the surface and he declared his allegiance to Northern Ireland. In true N. Ireland stubbornness he wanted to know what would happen if he refused the welcome token. Our Maori host fixed him with a steely eye and declared that there would be symbolic war and no show would take place. He picked up the token.

I also got to spent time with some women weavers. Normally you just get to see some displays in the weaving school but I got to learn how to roll flax on my bare knee to make cords for weaving, to have a good old natter with the Maori women about their lives and to see some of their work. At one point Teresa casually brought out a package that she said had not been unwrapped 'since Miss New Zealand wore it'. It turned out that the bubble wrap contained the first prize winning outfit from the 2005 Wearable Arts award and this is me wearing the skirt from it it. Well, this is me holding it up against me as Miss New Zealand is a lot skinner than me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lake Tahoe

I am not saying it was cold at Lake Tahoe... ...but that's real snow on them there Nevada mountains!

Fortune Cookies

Ever wonder where your Chinese fortune cookies come from? No, not China.
Yup - you guessed. San Fransisco.

More Precisely this tiny little 'factory' in the dark and narrow Ross Alley which runs between two wider neon-glitzed throroughfares in Chinatown.

The batter goes into a moving belt with shallow circular indentations. It goes around, into an oven, and comes out vertical. The operator prises the cookie out of the indentation and if she breaks it tosses it into a bin of rejects. It is obviousy a tricky task as it was a rather full bin (from which we got to eat for free). The good cookies are still malleable and she presses the fortune slip in the centre and folds and twists them around a sticking-out slim pole of steel and drops them into a cooling tray which is emptied into the bin for good cookies, (from which we got to eat at $4 a big bag to take away.)

I asked this lady how many cookies they produced in a day. She looked up wearily and said, "Lots."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shop hops

I had a plan. A tried and tested plan. Remember when I went to Europe and bought a alf meter in each shop and made it up into one souvenir quilt? That was the plan for the US. Did it work?
Well, lets just say that I can confirm that you can stuff 23.5 meters of fabric, one gift pincushion and a magazine into a medium USPS flat rate box, which then ships for $42.
So no. It didn't work. but boy did I have fun.
Blogger is messing me about tonight so these photos are not in the ideal order but bear with me...

At Fabrications in Healdsburg I found a number of pieces of Art cloth which had very individual resist patterns on cotton sateen. They were pricier than standard cotton but I could not resist (ha!) a few pieces becuase I am not going to see them again. Then I bought some cottons to tone in both with the Art cloths and with some fabric I have at home, from Cabin Fever in Auburn and Sugar Pine in Grass Valley
I forgot to rotate these photos but Blogger has taken an age tonight to load them so you will just have to tilt your heads 'coz I am not doing it again!

Before Healdsburg in fact I started a shop hope around Berkeley with Diane who only enabled my shopping. I decided to go out of my usual brown comfort zone ( see above) and go for colours which reminded me of the sugared almondy houses in San Fransisco.

The haul was built up over a number of shops....

..... including: cabin fever, Auburn. The lady in the Green jacket is Marlene my penfriend and host in Auburn

Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkely. This is Diane bringing me more to buy!

New Pieces in Berkely.

Cotton Patch somewhere down the dark and traffic clogged I-24.

Sugar Pine in Grass Valley

And Thimble Creek in Berkeley.