Please note that, on this page, the section headings are links to sub-pages
on the individual topics. If you wish, you can read the text for each section, go to
the relevant page, and then return to Artworks.
Silk painting and machine embroidery are both exciting and addictive in
themselves. Together, they can be magical. Silk has life and lustre and takes colour
vibrantly. It is versatile: the different types of silk are spun into a range of yarns and
then woven into an amazing range of fabrics. Finer silk also manipulates beautifully.
All these qualities make it a wonderful fabric to work with.
When I began painting on silk, pictorial effects interested me, but it soon became
apparent that the framework of gutta lines made the piece of fabric look flat, no
matter how interestingly the spaces were filled (not to mention the health and
ecological problems associated with getting rid of spirit-based gutta). I came to
prefer the more three-dimensional effects of migration technique (in which the
dyes, hand-painted, are allowed to interact in their own way - though with some
degree of control), or of salt technique (used as an end in itself) or of shibori-
related manipulation of fabric. The results were more akin to patterns found in
nature. In addition, the piece of fabric no longer seemed two-dimensional. Painted
silk can be a work of art in itself - or made into a garment - or manipulated for
textural effect - or embroidered on. The permutations and combinations are
and combinations of endless. Aussie shibori uses coloured dyes in variations on and
adaptations or combinations of the techniques of the Japanese art of shibori.
In creative freehand machine embroidery (FME), there are no rules, only
possibilities. Because we are concerned, not with construction, but with the
creation of rich surfaces, not only do we set aside the rules of conventional
sewing, but we deliberately break them. Only in this way can we build up a wide
repertoire of stitch techniques.
Construction is about balanced tension (top and bottom threads); FME is about a
myriad of effects obtained by controlled imbalance of tensions. If you aren't prepared to
play with both top and bottom tension, you are severely limiting the possibilities.
I like to "think outside the square", both in the shape of pieces and in trying to
develop innovative and different edge finishes and presentation:
1. 2. 3.
1. Aerial Perspective (Earthbound Series, 1997) (H 19"/48 cm approx.)
2. Genesis (Earthbound series, 1998)(H 36"/91.5 cm approx.)
3. Microcosm (Earthbound series, 1998) (H 13"/33 cm x W 14"/36 cm) (Private collection, Auckland)
I like 3-D work:
1. 2. 3.
1. Bowl I (1999) - moulded over half a a tenpin bowling ball, then embroidered (Private collection,
2. Bowl II (1999) - worked as above
3. Bark and Lichen II (detail) (1999) (Collection of Barbara Wenders, Seattle, WA)
Further, what are normally regarded as defects, such as stitch distortion and
visible bobbin thread, can be turned into creative opportunities - an exploratory
approach which makes FME an exciting and satisfying means of personal
expression. As an artist, you build your repertoire from the techniques of which
you like the effects, which you enjoy doing, and - very important - which your
machine likes doing.
All it takes is play and practice.
Historical and theatrical costume have fascinated me since my teens, so
wearable art follows quite naturally. I've been doing one-offs to commission and
for exhibition since 1989. Since 1996, I have been fortunate enough to be selected
- when applying - to exhibit in the prestigious annual Art to Wear exhibition. This
has been held annually at the Convention Centre at Darling Harbour in Sydney under
the auspices of the New South Wales Quilters' Guild.
Character Cloth Dolls
I came late to doll-making as the result of a commission for two Witch dolls. By
the time I had begun working on the second, I was hooked. Cloth-doll making
combines several of what are for me addictive areas of art/craft: three-
dimensional design (the dolls), costume design (historical, theatrical and fantasy),
sewing on a small scale, machine embroidery, and painting. However, while I like
to think a sense of humour goes into my dolls, I don't do "cute"!