I stitched a silk swaddling blanket from silk dyed with avocado stones, coleus leaves, onion skins and saffron. Our third grandchild is due next week, the same day we fly to South Africa for most of April. I wanted something …Continue reading →
I’ve always been certain that needlework holds stories while nurturing the soul. This belief was happily affirmed while I was curating Grace McKnight’s crochet exhibition over the past 3 years. Grace took doilies made by her grandmother, found vintage doilies, …Continue reading →
Visiting Annapolis Royal is always a treat, especially to visit Penny and Diane. I’d asked if I could come to one of their regular dye days to learn more about my new fascination with the alchemy of the dye pot. …Continue reading →
I’d been thinking about using plants from my environment to dye fabrics. Literally a few days later, this large dyer’s polypore was there, steps from my door, a gift from the woods. It was a sign! As a mushroom gatherer, I’m fascinated by theses intense little plants that I find scattered in the woods. I’d read that one could get a range of colours from them I’m resolved to learn more. My first excursion into natural dyes was with turmeric root.
Dyer’s polypore is a shelf fungus that feels velvety to the touch. It’s often found growing on a root near the base of evergreens. This one’s a beauty. It was a bit of pity to cut it, but it will be transmuted to make more beauty, so it seems a fair exchange. Depending on the mordant added, it can yield from creamy yellow through olive and khaki.
After slicing it up and simmering it in water for several hours, I left it to soak for several days. I washed Dorr wool, silk and some beige linen that had been soaked in a solution of alum as a mordant to hold the colour. I set the simmered the dye pot on the stove, along with the fabrics for a couple of hours. A range of really lovely soft buttery yellows emerged. It tuns out dyer’s polypore is a good mordant in itself. So once the dye was spent, I stewed up the remains with some sumac leaves to make a pot of mordant for more linen wool and silk. Here are some of the lovely yellows from this gift of the woods.
The indigo cotton is soft, like faded blue jeans with the same comfortable worn-in feeling. I’m patching this baby quilt I made for Leitha when I was 28. The quilt is now used by Scarlett and is showing it’s wear. …Continue reading →
I recently made my first natural dyed fabric. I used fresh ground turmeric roots and Dorr Wool. Links below. This colour enlivens me in the dark of winter. What to do with this rich cloth? It will be stitched upon, …Continue reading →
It is Sunday and everything is moist and soft in the drizzle and rain of the past few days. I wake early and sit in the stillness to stitch. Simple stitching is restful, contemplative. Later, I’m keen to walk in …Continue reading →
It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d catch up by showing you Scarlett’s baby quilt which I finished last fall. I began the quilt about a year ago and stitched on it slowly. My favourite stitching …Continue reading →
This morning as I watched the group of 5 crows who inhabit my garden every day, I thought of Susan Tilsley Manley. Susan was talented quilt artist who made fine art quilts about her country life in Nova Scotia. Susan …Continue reading →
We’ve had a most glorious, golden autumn weather here that’s gone on and on. These photographs are of our daily walk along wooded paths and the Maggie-Maggie Brook. They were taken about a month ago, so there’s still quite a …Continue reading →
This past week we spent 4 days in New York. We wanted to do something memorable for our 40th anniversary and New York was perfect. As our Uber driver said, as he forked over $15 for the Holland Tunnel to …Continue reading →
I’ve been digging into my old treasure trove of indigo cotton prints from South Africa. Many of the prints were bought in the late 60’s and early 1970’s when I still lived in South Africa. The local blue print cotton, …Continue reading →
This past week I was on Manitoulin Island to visit Judy Martin’s home with Penny Berens and Margi Hennen. Manitoulin is known as Spirit Island due to deep spiritual significance to the Indigenous People. What joy to be in this …Continue reading →
The stony spine of the river is exposed. The Maggie-Maggie is a torrent gushing through Mahone Bay in the spring and fall. In summer it is a lazy stream. But this is the worst drought since they started keeping records …Continue reading →
We met this delight woman in Limpopo Province when we toured there last year. Her husband is a famous carver and she is is second wife. My friend Janine Hunt from Bainbridge Island was in our group and both …Continue reading →
This stack of folded kuba raffia cloth exudes texture, colour and energy. Abstract designs are appliquéd on to a background fabic. The colours suggest the essence of Africa. I spotted these fabrics when we visited Kim Sacks Gallery in Johannesburg on our last tour to South Africa.
Whalebone vertebrae, many hundreds of years old. I found this at Red Bay Labrador at the earliest known Basque Settlement in North America. the Basque hunted whale and returned to Spain with the oil. There are 9 holes drilled in the centre of the vertebrae, perhaps made by researchers looking at the DNA of the whale, I don’t know.
I photographed this detail from a piece of handwoven raffia cloth in a shop in South Africa. Decorated with beads and cowrie shells. Some of the squares are dyed with indigo. It has a kind of pom-pom edging.
Cabbage field, Second Peninsula, Nova Scotia. This farm at the very end of the Peninsula is a sweet spot. I took this photo many summers ago when I spotted this field of crinkly cabbages, so like crushed velvet.
via www.yankeemagazine.com A wonderful interview and tribute to the work of Jo Diggs. The video shows Jo and her wonderful landscapes. I met Jo in the early 1980's and we became friends as we were both had a love of …Continue reading →
Today, when some in our world seem hungry to divide people violently along racial and religious lines, I find myself thinking about growing up in Apartheid South Africa. In Durban in the late 60’s, I was not supposed to go alone to the Indian Market, in the heart of the city. Here I found community and my world grew bigger.
We gaze at the patchwork, the fine cotton, the tiny quilting stitches. Like sentences in a diary, each patch is a record of a childhood dress, a housecoat and scraps from dressmaking projects from an ear when women made all the families clothing.We sense the comforting continuum of the generations of women who stitch. And so it continues with Cooper’s quilt. We’re doing what women have always done…slow stitching.
Judy Martin wrote a lovely piece about some embroideries I’d bought on my recent tour to South Africa. These highly expressive pieces were made by women in the Isipethu Sewing Collective in KwaZulu Natal. We visit this group each time we take our tour to South Africa.
To gather with friends is a simple, rich experience and, when women gather to stitch, it is particularly special. Last week began with two days with my dear friends, Judy and Margi at Penny’s house in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia… always a treasured and affirming time.
Homo Naledi is the most ancient human species ever discovered in Africa. The scientific buzz from the discovery is shaking up our knowledge of the origins of humankind.What good fortune that we decided to visit this very area on our tour next year! On-site archaeologists will guide our field trip to a dig close to the Naledi discovery.
I’ll write more about the various adventures we had in South Africa including more in depth information about shwe-shwe fabric pictured above, which is the iconic fabric of South Africa. I want to tell you about the herd of elephants that surrounded our safari trucks, the leopard we saw and the Zulu baskets and beadwork!
When we visited Limpopo Province this past April, our tour group was thrilled to stop at an African trading store. Three generations of an Indian family had owned the store supplying fabric to the various groups in the area: the Shangaan, Tsonga and Venda.
In April I led an arts & culture tour to South Africa. Here I am, second from the right, sitting with our tour group while visiting a Zulu village near Eshowe, KwaZulu Natal. Behind us are traditional bee-hive huts.
There is something about tulips in all their stages of bloom, that I love. Buds, gently opening, fresh and offering hope for spring. Then, gradually, their stems lilt over the vase edges, and the whole bunch splay and droop. Still, I hold on to them as they start to wither and dry.
I often visit this pine tree grove on my daily walks. There is an open meadow in the middle and the still strength of tree verticals are so restful. The strong verticals are obvious, but my eye is drawn to the soft horizontal lines in the pine needles and moss.
On September 7th, a fascinating exhibition of South African embroideries will open at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles. It’s called, Bearing Witness: Embroidery as History in Post-Apartheid South Africa It will feature the work of two groups that I’ve been closely connected to over the past 10 years through my fair trade imports, African Threads and my cultural tours to South Africa.
Thanks to the Lunenburg Rotary Club and the Tantallon Bay Grans for donating 150 pairs of reading glasses. This wonderful pile of glasses is headed to South Africa with me next week. The glasses will be given to women artisans in South Africa.
Polly and Val laughingI joined Barb Robson and Laurie Swim to co-curate this show of Polly’s personal collection of bed quilts, quilted wall hangings, woven coverlets. The quilts and woven coverlets are not all pristine; they have been put on beds, washed and used. When faded and worn, quilts still hold the process of making and gain layers of memories and stories.
via andsewitgoes.blogspot.ca Terry Grant recently blogged about an interesting technique she’s figured out. Using Liquid Thread, Terry creates dark outlines behind the applique shapes. It give a dramatic look and great effect. You can see her step by step instructions …Continue reading →
This hand embroidered square was made by the Intuthuko Sewing Group from Etwatwa Township near Johannesburg. There is wonderful solidarity between Grandmothers in Africa and Canada. To learn more about the remarkable Grandmothers Campaign to support African Grannies, check out …Continue reading →
I love my Newfoundland thrummed socks. I feel the cold terribly and am always looking for the best way to keep my feet warm. Our old farmhouse, while snug, has old wooden floors that can be a bit cold. Thrummed socks are just about the warmest thing I own.
Every year the Mahone Bay Quilters prepare an amazing feast of desserts that cover 2 banquet tables. We invite an Extraordinary Quilter to be our speaker and so, it’s the perfect combination of desserts and quilts. This event “Dessert with an Extraordinary Quilter” started 12 years ago and was the brainchild of Barb Robson.
Here is my Valentine’s Day heart. I’m very taken with wool these days. It’s a dream to stitch and the hand dyed colours are lovely. I’m lucky to have two rug hooking stores in my town. The wool they supply …Continue reading →
This just in from patti Carey of Nortcott Fabrics in Canada: Northcott has been contacted by several interested and concerned quilters asking if we would be able to assist in getting quilts to the earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan. The answer …Continue reading →
Bonnie Samuel asked me to write a guest blog about one of the stitchery groups that I buy textiles from in South Africa. I chose to talk about Isipethu – Zulu for “going to the fountain” – as this group makes the most fascinating collages in appliqué and embroidery.
A Textile Diaspora. I am drawn to stories expressed in cloth and was delighted by this slide show and article about African textile artist, Yves Appolinaire Kpede and his fascinating appliqué collage quilts and hangings. The quilts and hangings talk …Continue reading →
Sharon Pederson was our guest for Mahone Bay Quilter’s Guild 10th Extraordinary Quilter Dessert Party on April 8th. Quilters and great food are a match made in heaven! We filled 2 banquet tables with sweet bounty. Invited guest Johanna Alford, Pres. …Continue reading →
My friend Bonnie Samuel asked me to write a guest blog for http://bonniesamueldesigns.com/blog/ /on my 6 weeks with women’s sewing groups in South Africa. I’ve talked about it here but I thought you’d like to read about some of the powerful …Continue reading →
Many quilters are concerned that cotton cultivation uses the greatest amounts of chemicals of almost any crop. So I was relieved when I saw new environmentally sensitive batt products appearing: Pale green batting from Quilter’s Dream which is made from shredded 7-up bottles, and also bamboo batting. But, I decided to investigate bamboo a little more.
I squished this enormous pile of embroidery threads into a large suitcase and carried them to South Africa; gifting them to the women I met. About 2 years ago packages of threads started arriving in the mail when word got …Continue reading →
> Mapula Cloth by Elizabeth Mogan Originally uploaded by African Threads I’ve just returned from 6 weeks in South Africa. It was a truly rich and fascinating time. Veryan and I visited 9 women’s groups in various parts of S.Africa including …Continue reading →
I received a shipment of wall hangings from KwaZulu Natal just before Christmas. This one is made by Sheila Msimbi and depicts a Grandmother with many grandchildren to look after: they're jumping, climbing and hiding from her. This small tapestry …Continue reading →
Well … it's not really trusty! I found this treasure washed up on the beach in La Have, Nova Scotia and simply had to bring it home. I photographed it with luscious organic silk squares from Thailand that I bought …Continue reading →
What cakes would "Piece O'Cake" quilt designers make? What does Darlene Christopherson bake to win her son-in-law's heart? Do you want to make Rum Balls like Lorraine Torrence or Pavlova like CBC radio's Shelagh Rogers? Find out in this exceptional …Continue reading →
Ami Simms wrote the other day to say there is a special bid on a group of 4 mini landscape quilts all made by quilters Rosemary Garza and Noel Ann McCord of Beaumont, Texas. This is their Seasons Of Life …Continue reading →
I had a call this afternoon from my textile friends who collected the found quilts from the police. The police wanted to photograph all the quilts before they released them. It’s not a complete retrieval. None of my teaching materials, …Continue reading →
Billy Jordan found the quilts while walking in the woods. Apparently nature called……. read about it in the Chronicle Herald: (hmmmm, I can't get this link to work, but if you're interested, cut and paste this linkhttp://www.thechronicleherald.ca/Search/1063500.htmlinto your browser or, …Continue reading →
Friday 20 June: This afternoon a journalist from a t.v. station in St. John’s phoned to say that a young man had called the station to say he’d found my quilts. The journalist interviewed the fellow, and saw my quilts …Continue reading →
Yes, sadly, it's true.2 suitcases were taken from the locked trunk of my car just after the Quilt Canada conference here in St. John's Newfoundland. I've lost a significant body of work.FlamboyantTropic of CapricornFertility Several small wall hangings and collagesAlmost …Continue reading →
Warmest congratulations to Lynne Edwards, English quilter who has been awarded the highest citizen award in the Commonwealth: M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) for her contribution to the Arts through her quilting. The award will be present by H.R.H. …Continue reading →
Yup, that’s me, at Quilt Festival in Houston, handcuffed by Lieutenant J.R. Johnson of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. I met the Lt. in Janet Rice-Bredin’s booth where we were chatting with Sharon Pederson during Quilt Market. We offered him …Continue reading →
Points of View:My second book on small landscapes is hot off the press and in quilt stores as of mid-September. I’m delighted to have worked with Martingale Publishing to produce this book. Points of View: Landscape quilts to Stitch and …Continue reading →
Sketchbooks and journals are a dynamic part of the creative process. And judging by the new crop of books and web sites on journaling and creative sketchbooks, it’s obviously something that appeals to almost all of us in the creative …Continue reading →
So, we’re in the groove of 2007 and like many, I’ve started some new routines… well, not really “new”. I’ve re-awoken old routines that slipped by the way. I started yoga again and found a lovely teacher close by. It …Continue reading →
People I meet: My nose has been glued to the laptop for most of the past 9 months while completing my new book, yet I’ve connected to some fascinating people and resources. In September had the great pleasure to spend …Continue reading →
Pencil Crayons on Fabric. Have you thought about using pencil crayons in your landscapes and quilts? I first used watercolour pencils in this quilt called East/West http://www.valeriehearder.com/variousquilts.htm. Click on the detail of East/West. After all, it’s a wall hanging so …Continue reading →
The latest edition of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine is on the stands and it has an article that I wrote about the evocative landscapes of Karen Colbourne Martin of St John’s Newfoundland. I became friends with Karen when I lived in …Continue reading →
New book in the works!! I’m delighted to let you know that I’m working on a new book on embellished landscapes for Martingale, due out next summer 2007. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going, but I’m so enjoying …Continue reading →
Greetings from Nova Scotia. How to settle down to work after an exciting 6 week trip to Japan and Bali!? Well, as I write, Nova Scotia’s softly falling snow certainly brings me back to reality! No more warm Indian ocean …Continue reading →