Another Try with Photo of 'Cityscape' 
Here goes with another try to put up a better image of 'Cityscape'. I have just downloaded some more images into my computer so hopefully this one will be better.

This image shows where I am up to at the moment with the weaving.

City Life tapestries 
I have been working on a series of tapestries entitled 'City Life' for a wee while now. The first tapestry in this series is 'Exhibition Opening' which was first shown in my exhibition
'Primary Connections' at CoCA in January 2005. The second work is
'Picnic' which shows my grandchildren having a picnic in the gardens. At present I am working on the third tapestry in the series 'Cityscape' which shows shop fronts in Cashel Mall in the centre of the city. Tapestries take such a long time to weave that a particular series may take four or five years to complete. I will show these works together one day.

This image shows a detail of 'Cityscape' in the early days of weaving it. I am almost at the halfway point of this tapestry now, and this next image shows the section where I am working now. The tapestry has been rolled around the bottom roller and the design concept is hanging from the shafts at the top of the loom.

I am sorry that this image is so blurry. I hadn't realised that it was as bad as that. I am now using the digital camera but seem to be having problems with the focus. A lot of the images I take are blurry and I am not sure why that is. I must be moving the camera I think, when I press the button to take the photo. Any advice from people who are experts in taking photos with a digital camera will be much appreciated. I will try and post a better photograph of this work next time.

The contact from this blog page does not seem to be working so if anyone wants to contact me my e-mail address is A simple one to remember.

Serena's Studio 
I am posting here a photograph of Serena McWilliam in her studio in the Artists Quarter. Her studio is diagnonally across from mine, and Serena does beautiful work. Her specialities are machine embroidery, botanical drawing and printmaking. The main focus of her work comes from nature, from plants, flowers etc and she has a strong interest in the decorative elements that stem from these. You can see examples of this in the work shown in the photograph.

Life in the Artists Quarter is a lot of fun and we have many interesting things for visitors to see. It is the only place in Christchurch where people have a chance to see artists actually working and producing original New Zealand works of art in many different mediums.

Visitors to the Studio 
The last two or three weeks have been quite busy with visitors passing through the Artists Quarter and coming to see the artists working. I have had a number of people coming into the studio interested in the tapestry and other work. I have sold two of my brooches which is really encouraging me to make some more. Yesterday I had two special visitors, one, my friend Carole Morris from the Waikato. Carole did a workshop with me a few years ago and also purchased the tapestry 'Homage to Matisse - The Dream'. She is a lovely person and I always enjoy her visits. She is camera shy though and would not let me take her photo to put on my blog page. She pops into the studio each time she is in Christchurch to say hullo and see what I am up to and what tapestries are being made at the moment.

I also had a surprise visit yesterday from my cousin Colin Rea and his wee daughter. It was lovely to see Colin as I had not seen him for about four or five years at least.
This photo shows Colin in the studio looking at the work and standing in front of my messy shelves full of many different coloured yarns. My bookshelves are overflowing as well so maybe it is time for me to have a bit of a sort out of that part of the studio. One of my biggest problems is lack of space. My studio is way too small, but I guess even if it was bigger, I would soon also fill it up and want a bigger one again.

The photo of Colin was taken with the digital camera that my son-in-law Ian gave me almost two years ago. I have not used the camera a lot as I could not download the images on to my computer and I was not sure where I could buy a new card reader as the one Ian gave me did not seem to work. However, finally, I went to Dick Smiths with the camera in tow and managed to buy a card reader that works. I pestered the poor guy who was selling it to me to show me how the thing worked and how to put it on to my computer and he was very good about that, so I can now download the images from the camera on to my computer. I can't believe that it has taken me so long to do something about this. It will take me a wee while to work out how to get the best out of the digital camera, as some of the images are a bit blurry so far, my fault and not the cameras, I am sure!!! I do not think I will totally give up on my SLR camera though as it does take really good photographs and I love it to bits. It has done maraton work for me as I am always photographing something - research material for my work!!

Tapestry Brooches 
Well, it is a quite some time since I last made an entry into my blog pages. I have been very busy in my studio working on the 'Cityscape' tapestry but also working some days on weaving small tapestry brooches. This is an attempt to create some small works for the Christmas market. Brooches are fun to weave but do take quite a lot of time and effort to create. I weave six or seven at a time on a small frame. It can take up to four or five hours to weave one small piece depending on how complex the design is. I use the 20/6 cotton for warp and a mixture of very fine threads, wool, cotton, silk for the wefts.

The finishings for these brooches also takes a lot of time, an amazing amount of time really, as they are quite fiddly. The threads at the back are trimmed quite short and darned in also where necessary. The warps are folded back in behind and pressed down firmly and then I iron some vylene on to the back. This keeps the backs nice and tidy. I had some perspex pieces cut for me to the sizes I needed for the brooch and my friend Brian drilled small holes into these for me to be able to sew the miniature tapestries to the perspex using a very fine nylon thread (fishing line). That has worked quite well and looks very tidy. Some of the pieces have been made into pendants through adding a waxed cord and others are brooches with a catch hot glued on to the back. To finish the pieces for sale I attach them to silver card and wrap them in cellophane for protection.

My friends Sue Spigel and Serena McWilliam who have studios in the Artists Quarter at The Arts Centre of Christchurch next to mine, and myself are showing small works in a mini-exhibition 'Body Adornments' in the display cabinet in the corridor leading to our studios. This exhibition will start in a couple of weeks time probably, dependent on how soon we can get enough brooches made. Sue is working with fimo and fabrics and Serena is making her lovely pieces with her machine embroidery techniques. Mine are tapestry of course. So if any of you reading this happen to live in Christchurch, or are visiting, do come to the Artists Quarter in the South Quad off Hereford St. We do welcome visitors to our studios and enjoy showing what we do. All works in the studios are for sale as well, and for unique gifts for Christmas you could not come to a better place.

One Day Workshop 
A couple of weeks ago I had two students for my second one day workshop. The students were Alice, a 12 year old girl from down south and Margaret, her aunty from England. We had a very good day and Alice and Margaret came really close to completing their small tapestries.

The photograph shows Margaret and Alice working on their small frames which they can take home with them. One day is not enough to learn all there is to know about tapestry, but it is enough to get a taste for tapestry, to try it out to see if you would like to learn more. The students choose a small design and are taught the basic weaving techniques necessary to weave that design. If the tapestry is not completed in the one day they can take it home to finish it. The frames are designed so that the tapestry does not need to be taken off it but can be hung on the wall as a small framed work.

If anyone reading this blog would like to book in for a one day workshop you can e-mail me at Phone me at +64 3 3743441 or make contact through the Creative Tourism website

Work started on City Scape 
Here I am again! I am finding that I seem to be writing in my blog only once a week, but I guess that is okay. I have had a couple of letters from my blog site and that is great. If any reader of this blog would like to e-mail me on any issue I bring up then please do. I enjoy the contact with people.

I have started weaving the new 'Cityscape' tapestry and it is going well. I am working week about on the tapestries as I still have lots of work to do on 'Lace 2'. They are completely different works and I am enjoying both of them. 'Lace 2' is very complex and very fine and the other one is not so fine and much simpler to weave so it grows much more quickly. Here is a photograph of the first stages of the tapestry.

The sett for this work is 9epi and it involves a lot of limning or outlining of the shapes in the work. See the detail photograph.

In this work I am not using hatching at all. The colours are mixed on the bobbins so there are no colour gradations in the work at all. This work is the third in my series of City Life tapestries. I hope one day to do an exhibition of these tapestries but I guess that may be a couple of years away.

Starting New Work 
Well, it has been a few days since I last wrote an entry into my blog. I have had a few days out of the studio this last week as my daughter Nicky and gandaughter Kate have been staying with me. Nicky and Kate live in Hobart in Tasmania and it was so lovely having them come to stay. Nicky is a lyric soprano singer just a month away from her final exams and she prepared a repertoire to sing in her first solo recital. She sang beautifully for her grandmother, friends and some of the family at Ngaio Marsh Retirement Village here in Christchurch. Nicky has the most beautiful voice, and everyone was hugely impressed by her confidence, her obvious joy in what she was singing and in her professional approach. A wonderful afternoon.

Anyhow I am now back at work in the studio. Since my last entry I have warped up my second loom for a new work. This tapestry is the third one in the 'City Life' series and is in the same style as 'Exhibition Opening' and 'Picnic'. Here is a photo of the loom showing the dressing of the loom with the warp partly threaded through the heddles.

I have yet to work out how to get the photographs smaller, though I guess it is much clearer larger than smaller, so hopefully readers will bear with my learning to do things on this blog. This loom is a Vapapu Lapponia, made in Finland and imported into New Zealand from Sweden. I received a grant in 1990 from the then Arts Council of New Zealand to purchase two looms for my studio and this is the smaller loom of the two. It has a one metre weaving width and is a lovely loom to work on. It is an upright tapestry loom with two shafts. It did have a beater attached to it when I first bought it, but I took the beater off so that I would have more space in which to weave. When warping the loom I first thread the warps through the heddles then tie them in pairs to the top baton which is lashed to the apron.
This is probably a slow way to do it, but because there is no reed on the loom now I find that this works well for me and I can control the sett of the warp easily this way. The top and bottom batons are marked off in inches. The sett for this tapestry in 9epi (ends per inch) so I have 18 pairs of thread over two inches. Once the warp is fully threaded through the heddles I wind it on to the top beam with a heavy cardboard separating the threads with each full turn of the beam, stopping every now and then to pull the threads as tight as possible. The next job then is to tie the threads to the bottom apron baton. This takes quite a while and it is quite difficult to keep the tension even. I usually retie the threads a second time to correct any tension problems. It took me three days to complete the warping process for this tapestry.

This second photo shows the warp completed, the first row of knots done and I am ready to weave. The design concept for this work is hanging on its side and features a row of shop fronts in the city. The cartoon, which is a simple line drawing of the design concept, is hanging behind the warp.

I have been working this week on finishing the tapestry 'Picnic' which features my son's children. We had been on a picnic in the Bird Gardens at Katikati last February when I caught this image on my camera. I loved the way I caught them all with their hands in their mouths - just one of those 'moments'! I scanned the image into Photoshop and played with it, came up with two different concepts and the tapestry is a mixture of both. I liked the colours and the linear qualities as well.

This work is going to be sent to Auckland to be shown in the North Art Contemporary textile exhibition which will be opened at the Northart Community Arts Centre by Dame Catherine Tizard on the evening of 24th September.

It took me about three days to complete the 'finishing' on this tapestry. With so many colour changes there were lots of threads at the back of the work. I trimmed all of these to the same length and darned the threads that were near the edges into the weft. I nearly always weave a heading at the bottom and top of the tapestries and did so in this case. I sewed bias binding to cover the warp threads and then handstitched the heading to the back of the work using a large zig-zag stitch. Velcro is then handsewed to that (see photo). I bought the sticky velcro to put on to the wooden baton and then stapled that for extra strength. The baton can be screwed to a wall when the tapestry finds its permanent home. This tapestry will become a family heirloom for my son's family though I am not sure which child will eventually inherit it. Hopefully it will cause no arguments amongst them and maybe they can share it. If looked after well, this tapestry will last a long time and will pass down through the generations. I am happy to take commissions to weave heirloom tapestries, so if anyone reading this is interested in commissioning a tapestry for your family, just send me an e-mail for more information on the commissioning process.

A Warning to Artists 
Well, this last week has been a bit of a disappointing one in that I thought I had made my first sale from my website. Great excitement initially. I had been in contact by e-mail with a lady from London calling herself Katherine Cole and asking me to send her three drawings which she had seen on my website and for which she would pay me by travellers cheques. Katherine said that she lived in London and was shifting to South Africa to live. I was also contacted by her carrier, telling me he would get Fedex to pick up the drawings. Her letters were very friendly and chatty. Luckily though, I did not send the work to her at once and requested payment first. The travellers cheques arrived on Monday last week and after being warned by my friend Brian Gartside in Auckland that this might be a scam, I took the cheques straight to the bank and asked them if they could verify that they were genuine. Of course they turned out to be counterfeit. How disappointing is that!!! I am just pleased that I had the sense not to send the work to her straight off. I find it hard to believe that some people can use others so badly.

However, on a better and more positive note, I also received this week, a letter from the Norsewear Art Award Event Coordinator, inviting me to send some work for their 21st Anniversay exhibition in April next year. They are inviting work from all past Award Winners. I would like to weave a new tapestry for this, so am now working on design concepts for a tapestry reflecting the 'City Life' theme. This new work will be in the same style as the tapestry 'Exhibition Opening' which also reflects life in the city.

Well, time to get over to the studio. I haven't spent as much time there this week as I have had a rather nasty cold, and have been feeling a bit miserable. Much better today though.

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