Sunday, May 1, 2016

My first me made May

Here's hoping it is still April in the Uk. (it isn't but very early in the morning) It is May here..but I am luckily wearing a home sewn skirt so here goes. 

I, Spike of ( and @spikedeane), sign up as a participant of Me Made May '16. I will wear at least 1 item of me made clothing or altered thrifted clothing for the duration of May 2106.

Holy heck... but I do wear home made stuff a lot, usually because I can wear the same skirt consecutively over a few days or to be honest a week. I am also planning to do a fair bit of sewing this month so I have some 'nice' clothes to wear on our trip to the UK. I've just got to that point where all my old clothes are... falling apart, I have worn in the studio and got irrewashably stained or no longer fit. If I don't buy clothes I have to make them and given my fabric stash I really should. Me Made May 2016 will just add a bit of needed pressure.

Looks like my Mitsy is going to get a good work out!

Today I am wearing a bright blue A line skirt, that is the skirt part of Sewaholic's Cambie dress (view A)... see the full dress here

I will post some pics on the blog and some on Instagram... where I am @spikedeane

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Autumn 'Until the last leaf falls'


I adore Autumn and the relief of the long summer heat is just a small part of my favourite season. It is the glorious fall colour and the slow reveal of interlaced branches, the scent of woodsmoke in the evening and a cool chill in the early morning.

'Until the last leaf falls' are a range of glass Autumn leaf sun catcher's that transform pencil sketches into luminous glass. See my website for more details.

There are 2 books I love to read in Autumn, both urban fantasies. One is 'The Autumn Castle' by Australian author Kim Wilkins, and that is where the title comes from. The enchantment in the story (that connects the land of faery to modern day Berlin) can only last 'Until the last leaf falls'. The other novel is 'Memory and Dream' by Canadian author Charles de Lint. One of the quotes included in this book captures my feelings perfectly about Autumn and Winter trees... that feeling of waiting and promise.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show."
                                                                                                        -Attributed to Andrew Wyeth.

PROCESS: The glass process is powder printing and fusing. I turn my sketches into a screen print and push the coloured glass powder through the screen. For the leaves I cut, drill and finish glass circles  and use up to 6 different glass powders of varying Autumnal hues to create unique colour ways. After the circles are 'screen printed' I fire them to fuse the glass powder to the glass 'plate'.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cambie dress, finally sewn

There has been a flurry of sewing going on here. A sudden need for a dress to wear for a wedding...

I finally made up Sewaholic's Cambie dress. I bought the pattern ages ago... an actual paper pattern. the actual paper pattern had an unfortunate arrival in the rain so some of the pieces were stuck together which made me be diligent and trace most of the pattern pieces off.

I made traced out the bodice, added a full bust adjustment (FBA) straight up and then tested the bodice in a plain cotton. It seems I have another standard fitting to add to the list. I think, compared to standard patterns, I am a bit short from shoulder to bust. It explains some of my fitting problems.
I took away some length in the 'sleeve/strap' area and decided to move the shoulder line seam down to the back. I made the whole thing up, with the gathered skirt option in a checked sari fabric before making up view A in the Japanese lawn.

It took me ages to place the pattern pieces on the fabric, as the print repeat was quite awkward.

Pattern: Cambie Dress view A (size 12  with FBA cup c)
Fabric: Japanese jacquard lawn, lily print. Lined with rayon.
Comments: The method of construction is great and the dress goes together very well. Love the pockets and I like the skimming not too tight fit.

The only picture I have so far

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hans Christian Andersen course WEEK 2

Week 2 of the Hans Christian Andersen course via Future learn and the Hans Christian Andersen centre. Fascinating and addictive with all the conversations going on. The HCA centre has provided fabulous resources, so much reading available I want to just gorge myself on it all. Restraint, Spike, restraint.

Paper cut by Hans Christian Andersen  Cat no. 27569 from HCA Centre

This week, we got into some real study. Looking at analysis models like the actantial model of which I had never come across before and some more familiar ones like Propp's morphology. The tales we looked at this week were 'The Blue Light' and 'The Tinderbox'. 'The Blue Light' you can find in the Grimm's collection and 'The Tinderbox' is HCA adaption or retelling. The images that have stayed with me since childhood from The 'Tinderbox' are those dogs with the big eyes!

There is a lot of discussion which is fantastic, I've met new people and found familiar voices in the world of fairytale. Hi Gypsy, Nike and Louisa.


The Tinderbox. Retold by Stephen Mitchell with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline

Vladimir Propp and the Morphology of the folk Tale

A huge simplification of Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the folk tale.

In Morphology of the Folk Tale Propp deconstructed Russian stories to describe 31 plot elements or functions, e.g. The hero leaves home, the hero is tested, The hero acquires the use of a magical agent.  Propp’s structural analysis, builds a formulae to read and recognise components in each tale. For example, citing a story about a Tsar, three daughters and a dragon, Propp describes an act of kidnapping thus: β³ð1A1B1CH1-I1 K4W°. The entire tale is a much longer set of symbols, the tale is condensed but patterns and similarities between stories are much easier to identify.

and here is a link of a slightly longer and more comprehensive explanation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

GLINT 2015 residency wrap up

For the last 6 weeks I have been involved in a fantastic artist residency called GLINT. It's the residency lovechild of Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studio. 6 artists, 3 of glass and 3 of print get to wander between the 2 studios sharing skills, trying out new techniques and expanding our individual practices through the lens of another medium.

From the glass world GLINT 2015 were George Agius, Debra Jurss and Spike Deane (myself) and from the print world we had Nicci Haynes, Julie Ryder and Luke Chiswell. We all had very different skill sets, even within our own mediums which was a great bonus, the opportunity was there to learn and try SO many different things.
L-R. Deb Jurss, Julie Ryder, Nicci Haynes, Spike Deane, George Agius, Luke Chiswell

The arts community around the Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studio is such that we had input from other artists too, notably Ruth Oliphant who gave us a fantastic powder printing demo, Lisa Cahill who helped out with some slumping, Peter Nilsen with cold-working and Matt Curtis.

Yesterday was our last day, which really involved sorting through the amazing amount of tests and samples on our 'studio tables' and checking every corner of both buildings for anything we may have left behind... oh and some cleaning (it always gets messy in the final week).

A big thank you to the staff of Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studio who helped enormously through out the residency duration with advice on projects and booking equipment.

So what did I get up to? See my Instagram feed for ALL the photos. I think I will need to break up the photos and projects into separate posts, but here is a small selection.

Used one of my popular silhouettes for etching

Casts of a woodcut

powder printing

screen printing fabric

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pablo Neruda

Some through internet wormhole or another I found an Instagram account @storiesgram who run weekly themed challenges. This weeks challenge is Pablo Neruda since his birthday was on the 12th. A few years ago for rather elaborate birthday cards I 'illustrated' 2 poems for Dougie.

So of course, I thought...well I could mix the images from those cards in a graphic or 2 or 3 or 4...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Glass in Fairy tales

Here is a thought, that was meant to be part of my talk on Sunday at the Fairytale conference. But in my nervousness I forgot it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Second day of Winter

Lots of frost, that stayed around for most of the morning and a leaf popsicle!

We don't have particularly serious Winters here in Australia, but Canberra does get chilly. About -5or6 for frosty mornings and days of 8-13. I find the cold is more of a novelty for a few months before Spring and the heat of Summer come back.

Graphics with Canva

Recently I have been having fun with Canva, a free graphics app online. It's very easy to use, has lots of free stuff and has a bunch of templates with the right proportions for various social media banners and pics.

I have been thinking about how to use the images I have in new ways on place like Pinterest, facebook, Instagram and twitter without boring people to death. So with Canva I have been making graphics with quotes from fairy tales. I have done a few with #creepyquotes and now i'm starting an #onfairytales set. I'm enjoying looking for the text, matching it with the images and playing around with fonts and colourways.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy Birthday DRAGONCLAW!

Kate Forsyth's first published book Dragonclaw was published 18 years ago today. To celebrate the series has had new covers designed.. and Kate is running a competition to win a new set. I have designed a few graphics on Canva to add to my social 'love' of this series.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

40! Birthday wishes and velvet dresses

I turned 40 today.

It was a good day, mainly spent frantically sewing a velvet dress interspersed with birthday wishes, parcels & flowers. There is an Andy Kehoe resin print on it's way, from my parents, a beautiful ceramic bowl from a friend and a poem and Hazelnut trees from my partner.
Beautiful, lovely and thank you. xxx

Elisalex dress from By Hand London
Fabric: Crushed velvet from the stash c.1996. Blue base and burgundy pile, probably synthetic.
Alterations: Heck yes
Overall Comments: I like the silhouette and I'm glad I stuck with it through the alterations. Once the fit is established it is an easy sew and I will make it again.

THE SEWING DETAILS: lots and lots of them
I love velvet and when I was younger I bought a lot of it, in purples and blues, many shades of red wine and some green but I didn't actually sew much of the woven velvet. I decided that for dinner on my fortieth I would make a dress out of some of that vintage? (18-20 year old fabric). After some deliberation I firmly told myself that drafting a dress from scratch was going to take too long, my skills were too rusty and the lack of a fitting buddy tipped me over to buying a pattern. I chose the Elisalex dress from By Hand London.

Elisalex seems to have been made up almost by every sewing blogger I follow, flattering a wide range of figures in a variety of fabrics... a quick toile and then on to the velvet was how I saw the project. Hah!

In my 20's when I sewed the most I was a very standard Australian size 10 (with a slightly smaller bust and waist). I'm now size 14 with a C+ bra cup. I didn't really think how much a being out side of the standard would affect the pattern fitting (!!!) which is silly really, considering my experience in dress making.

The first Elisalex toile (size UK 16) was an awful fit. Baggy sleeves, shoulder slipping off, big wrinkles under the arms. I almost stopped there. I rang my mother for advice.
Probably the only photo of my first toile i'm willing to share
I made 4-5 toiles in all. After the first one I concentrated on the bodice and sleeves and I did a FBA, sway back adjustment and some fine tuned fitting around the princess seams over the bust.

The sleeves; first off when I saw the sleeve pattern piece I was surprised. In my pattern making training (admittedly some time ago) fitted sleeves had a higher sleeve head. Ah well I thought, I've seen plenty of Elisalex's out there, they look fine.

Elisalex sleeve in comparison to my industry fitted bodice block

I took my mum's advice and fitted the bodice as well as I could, then I inserted the sleeve only in the underarm from notch to notch. When I tried it on, the gap showed me how much the sleeve head was missing. After much discussion with my mum (who had been sent lots of toile photo's) I drafted an entirely new sleeve, which took a few adjustments to get right. I added a dart below the elbow, raised the sleeve head and some width in the bicep area.

Elisalex sleeve
Sewing buddy, about to be evicted
Sewing buddy retreats to a safe place

After all the toile-ing I made up a final toile with the skirt and lining, which due to the double layer of fabric was a bit too firm. By this stage though I was getting close to my deadline, and I decided just to go ahead and make some final adjustments by eye.

I'm pretty happy with the result. I didn't quite finish he garment in time for dinner, but it was wearable by then (the bodice lining wasn't stitched in but all the hems were done). Next time I sew velvet I will take my time (yes dear, you were right) as something must have gone a little skew in the cutting and I ended up having to lower the back neckline by 3cm and the front neckline wasn't as nice as the toile. The crushed-ness of the velvet is very forgiving of any speed sewing stuff ups.

40th Birthday Dress

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Selkie Stories; sketch book & samples

My next focused exhibition is 'Selkie Stories' showing in late August in M16 Artspace's black room. I am developing the themes I was looking at last year with 'Depths & Shallows' by using animation, glass & textiles to portray the transformation and narrative of Selkie folklore. The last few days have been productive, the story board is coming together along with material samples & tests.

I have found some great resource material from on grey seals. They have quite a few filmed sequences which are fantastic for getting the movement of seals in the water. Also David Thomson's 'The People of the sea' arrived in the post today. First published in 1954, the tales he has written down retain a feeling of their oral nature. Also in the post recently was a package from author Kate Forsyth which contained her beautiful book 'Two Selkie Stories from Scotland'.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Autumn musings; fiction, poetry and colour

Autumnal embroidery in silk and cotton floss on calico.

Well it is no surprise that I love Autumn, I take the same kind of photographs every year, I regularly use Autumn leaves for bookmarks and find leaves from past Autumns well pressed in-between pages every year.

I have done my Autumnal re reading of Kim Wilkins' Autumn Castle, such a perfect read for the season and one of my favourite books ever.

The Autumn Castle has a quote from a poem of Kate Forsyth's, another favourite author (Her poems are published under her maiden name, Humphrey).

"So pure and cold the wind breathes. It pares the flesh from the bones of the land - finds at last the essential shape" Autumn, Kate Humphrey.

Kim Wilkins also includes her own translation from a few lines of Hohenburg by Georg Trakl.

"There is nobody at home. Autumn fills the rooms;
Moonbright sonata
And theawakening at the edge of the twilit forest."

This quote reminded me of another, one that when I read it thought... Yes, that's it exactly! Unfortunately all I remember is that feeling and not the quote. Frustrating. Searching my memory I managed to narrow it down to a Charles de Lint novel but despite searching 'on the google' I couldn't find it (turns out I should have remembered the American and Canadian use of the word Fall).

So I started re-reading 'Jack the Giant Killer' and then 'Memory and Dream' and at last I found it.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show."
                                                                                                        -Attributed to Andrew Wyeth.

I had read Memory and Dream in a previous Canberra Autumn, where I was feeling incredibly nostalgic. Canberra is planted with many European deciduous trees, reminding me more of German and English Autumns than any Sydney season could give. I was pondering on why I love winter trees (I mean why would a person prefer bare branches to glorious green?) and the Andrew Wyeth quote drew me to an answer. It is that brimming sense of potential, of becoming, of promise. The tension of the moment before the action happens. I love being able to see the 'bone structure' or bare architecture of the tree branches... I guess that is why all my glass pieces have bare branched trees.

OK Autumn gush over!

Well not quite. The trees in my garden, which I take pictures of constantly at this time of year have inspired me to a small embroidery. Yellow and grey are such a great colour combination, that I kept seeing the tree branches and yellow leaves in stitches. So I have started, the background calico is an old piece (20 years) of stitch testing. When I first went to pattern making college, our first lessons where of threading an industrial sewing machine to a timer and practicing sewing a straight and even line. As you can see mine are a little wavy, but I think it works great as a background giving a suggestion of landscape. The calico has a lovely soft texture 20 years later!

Silk and cotton floss on calico sewing machine stitch samples