Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Chatty with Michelle Threefold...

A small tapestry sample by Michelle before embarking on a larger work.

As part of my 'Getting Chatty' series, I spoke to the lovely Michelle Threefold about starting off in tapestry.  I think it's fantastic to see a new breed of people getting involved in woven tapestry and also to find out why they wanted to learn the medium.  I think Michelle is a bit of a girl after my own heart who is creating some very bold designs!  Enjoy the interview!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? 
My name’s Michelle, and I live by the ocean in Adelaide, South Australia with my partner Anita, her daughter Lily and two naughty cats.
I first went to art school after high school, but couldn’t find my perfect medium.  It was only afterwards that I discovered needlepoint – I knew then that WOOL would become my holy grail of mediums!

Moon phase cushion - amazing needlepoint!

What do you do and make? You do a few different things which I'm sure inspires each thing!  
I work mainly with chunky cross stitch on open-weave canvas, but am also learning tapestry weaving.  I hope to incorporate both in my practice, but the tapestry is going to take many more years to master.
I started designing cross stitch kits in 2000, because at the time there was a lack of ‘alternative’ designs on the market.  I started selling my kits and patterns on my website in 2005, but moved to Etsy in 2010.  I’m currently working on ready-stitched pieces, such as clutch purses with bats all over them.
I thought that my cross stitch and tapestry work would be separate – but a tapestry artist friend suggested that I combine my cross stitch, tapestry and goth-ness, which is something I hadn’t thought of before … fresh creative eyes are very helpful!
What brought you to tapestry? How are you currently learning it? 
Anita found an advert for the SW TAFE correspondence course in a Textile Forum magazine.  She gave it to me and said ‘you should do this!’. 
I’m a masochist – if it is very very difficult and takes a very very long time, then my interest is piqued!  I like the idea of learning a very traditional and complicated mastercraft, and using it to create nontraditional artwork. 
Learning by correspondence is both wonderful and difficult – wonderful because I have a ‘lone wolf’ personality and prefer working things out for myself, and difficult because sometimes it would be much easier to be *shown* what to do rather than trying to interpret written instructions. 
Diamond pillow.

What are the preconceptions of being a tapestry weaver/ embroidery person, textiler ? Are there any weird and wonderful comments that you have received? 
Textiles are definitely the underdog of the art world – many people cannot grasp the fact that creating art with wool is just as valid as creating art with paint or clay.  There is a ‘craft’ aspect to every medium – the artist utilises their craft in order to express original creative ideas through their art.
Most of the time people think I’m joking when I tell them that I’m a textile artist – they say that I ‘don’t look like the type of person who would be into that’!   To be honest, I get a kick out of that – I love challenging stereotypes, and am drawn to things that are considered to be unusual or unexpected.
Any tips or comments that you could give to someone who is thinking about learning tapestry?  
I’m in my 3rd year of a 6 year course, and I’ve already discovered that tapestry weaving requires passion, determination … and maybe a bit of an obsessive/compulsive personality?
The tapestry community is quite small, but I am very fortunate to have found other unconventional souls, such as yourself, who inspire me so much!   I find that I have received lots of encouragement and advice from tapestry weavers, who are eager for more people to learn.
For someone who is thinking about learning tapestry, the Warrnambool TAFE correspondence course has been going for around 20 years, and is great for those in remote areas.  If you live in a city like Melbourne you probably have more choices, since RMIT do some excellent courses.  I hope these courses continue to be made available to potential students!
Needlepoint book mark, love the green leopard print!

Where do you create? Are you a studio gal or at home?
Home studio for the moment … though I’d love to have a separate studio one day.  I’m about to move into a new house, and the upstairs living room is my designated studio space.  It has an ocean view, so I’m not complaining ;)

Is there a soundtrack to your making? What do you listen to?
Oh yes, I’ve been into Goth music since I was about 15 … and nothing has really changed!  I only listen to Goth, Deathrock, Coldwave and Post-Punk.  I don’t listen to mainstream music at all – a friend once said I had a ‘mainstream filter’, and he was correct! 
I co-host a Goth/Deathrock radio show with Anita, and also do a solo Coldwave/Post-Punk show – both on Cathedral 13 internet radio.  Usually when I’m working I have Cathedral 13 playing in the background ;)

What do you hope to have achieved in 5 years? (such as exhibitions etc)
At the moment, my main goal is to get better and better at tapestry weaving! 
I’m also working towards creating a body of work centred around the Goth/Deathrock Subculture – I’d love to eventually create enough to have an exhibition, combining tapestry with cross stitch. 
Where can people find out more about what you do?  Share your links!
Here’s my blog, where I document my struggles with learning tapestry, as well as other random thoughts:  www.threefolddesigns.blogspot.com
And my main website for my cross stitch designing is www.threefoldneedlepoint.com

What are 3 words that you would use to describe your work?
That’s the hardest question of the lot!  Umm, ‘Loud’, ‘Dramatic’ and ‘Provocative’!!!

Check out Michelle's blog and website, I love seeing her work in progress and all the new things that she is learning too!  A big thank you to Michelle for being part of my 'Getting Chatty' series.  If you would like to read last month's 'Getting Chatty' click here! 

Michelle also drilled me with some questions relating to tapestry weaving that were aimed at those starting out in the medium (great learning tool Michelle!)  You can see what I have to say on her blog here!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pink and Red Inspiration...

My knitting inspiration! L-R: my knitted cowl, #marimekko bag, my fav #marimekko striped tee, #marimekko gurus  Bud Collins & Anita!!

Marimekko inspiration for knitting...

One of my favourite colour combinations that Marimekko does is the super bright red and pink combo.  I love the way that the pink makes the red seem more pinky and vice versa.   While I was knitting up another of the moss stitch cowls in red, I realized that I was going to run out of yarn.  I wrote about the drama of making this cowl in this post!  What was I going to do?!
The perfect solution came to me while wearing one of my Marimekko striped tees.  (Pictured above) I realised that the best option was to select a colour to go with the red that was completely different.  The answer was pink...

I'm loving how it is looking now, a clash of red and pink and I am sure that when it is twisted into a double loop cowl around my next that the effect will be fantastic. 

I wanted to share some of my favourite red and pink Marimekko items that have inspired this colour combo.  The funniest thing is I googled 'red and pink Marimekko' and on the first page was a photo of my friends Bud and Anita!  As you can see, Bud is looking quite striking in his pink and red toned Marimekko trousers attending an exhibition of Anita's brothers work in Santa Fe.  Those two always look so stylish!

Be prepared for the pink and red madness when this cowl is completed.  Do you think it will be overkill if I wear it with the stripey t-shirt?!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Things You Find...

Fancy tying tape! Found with my antique sewing machine!

It's amazing the things that you find in an old cabinet! When my beautiful 1935 Singer sewing machine arrived the other day, I couldn't wait to take a good look in the draws to see what was in there. These are a couple of things that I found. This 'Fancy Tying Tape' is apparently fantastic for tying up parcels. Isn't it the cutest packaging! I don't want to use it, just keep it intact. I like that they say that it is 'Dainty, Strong and Attractive', maybe that's what I look for in a man!

Oh and beautiful hosiery mending thread!

There was also a stack of these Hosiery Mending Thread packs. I love the brand DARN-EEZI! Ha ha, I don't think that I would ever describe darning hosiery as as easy task! However it does make you think about how many things that we throw out because we are too lazy to mend them. I've been trying to mend jeans with holes in them recently and other larger items but I must admit that when a pair of tights get a hole in them (especially in the leg) they get thrown into the bin. Maybe I should look at trying to mend them instead?

I wish that things like this were still made.  Yes, I'm a little nostalgic but all this packaging and purpose made items make me want to sew and mend!

Friday, May 18, 2012

May Craft Completion Update!

Sewing up the Marriage Sweater for @elgatogrande !! ❤

So, I feel that the May Craft Completion month is going a bit slowly. I was on a roll and then I hit a wall with a bit of a disaster with the Marriage Sweater! I managed to complete the sleeve to pattern, beautifully sew it in so Mark could try it on then disaster struck! The sleeve was WAY too narrow! I partially blame Mark's gym junkie, bicep building regime of late.

After a bit of a tantrum about the sweater, I reassessed the pattern and have started on another, larger sleeve, which so far is looking much better. It's a bit of a set back and due to my amazing hand sewing skills, the sewn in sleeve has been a nightmare to get out. However, onward and upward and I hope to still get this baby completed within May, even if it means that other projects won't be finished.

Woo hoo! One project down!

Maybe the list was a little long? I guess I aimed high to finish all of this in a month but it is good to set a goal, even if you can only get halfway through it!

Knitting in the round

The red cowl has had a major set back with this project running out of yarn. My lovely pal David ordered some additional yarn from Bendigo Wool Mills on my instruction but I managed to order the wrong colour red! I mean, there is a huge difference between Cherry and Holly?!?! 

With the lack of yarn to complete the project, it looks like this project will be carried over into June. I have managed to make a decision on how to finish it up so stay tuned! It has been inspired by some of my favourite Marimekko!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guerrilla Girls Telling it How it is!

This is what I did last night!

I was pretty lucky to attend the booked out lecture by two of the founding members of the Guerrilla Girls last night. As always they were funny, inspiring and masked!  I wanted to share some of my favourite posters made by them about women artists (see below).

Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls.

In a time where there has been much discussion about younger women declaring not to be Feminists, the Guerrilla Girls have returned to Melbourne at an interesting period.  They stated that they were pleased to return to Australia and to see a female Prime Minister leading our country but that her approach was seeming more and more conservative (which is of alarm!)

Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls.

I loved their discussion, it was to the point and they made claims and backed them up with facts. If you've been sleeping in the wilderness somewhere and unfamiliar with their work, please visit their website!  And remember, equality and voice for all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Different Kind of Black Sabbath...

A different kind of black sabbath! Can't wait to play this cd, esp the Temptations doing fiddler on the roof medley!
My Black Sabbath CD pack!

It's no surprise to my friends that one of my all time favourite museums in San Francisco is the Contemporary Jewish Museum.  I've spoken about my love for their exhibitions and their design on numerous occasions but if you want a recap you can visit some posts here and  here.

Naturally we visited the Contemporary Jewish Museum while we were in San Francisco last time and I just had to share an exhibition that they have on at the moment called Black Sabbath.  The exhibition explores the relationship between Black and Jewish music and the history of it.  I adored the set up of the exhibition with a series of cafe tables and chairs, where you could sit down, read over a menu and then pop some headphones on and enjoy the playlists.  I loved the music so much that I even bought the accompanying CD! I could of spent hours watching videos and listening to music in there.  It was also fun to people watch others grooving along with headphones on too!

Black sabbath exhibition
The set up for the exhibition Black Sabbath in the gallery.

I guess I had never really thought about the relationship between Black and Jewish music so this exhibition was an education with me.  To give you some background, here is some information from the exhibition about the musicians and themes used.

Beginning in the 1930s, the song “Eli Eli”—based on King David’s lament in the 22nd Psalm—became a staple for left-leaning progressives like Paul Robeson and a must-cover for Black artists like Duke Ellington and Ethel Waters. For Waters, the song spoke to a history of shared suffering. “It tells the tragic history of the Jews as much as one song can,” she said, “and that history of their age-old grief and despair is so similar to that of my own people that I felt I was telling the story of my own race too.”

Friendship and working relationships with Jews were the inspiration for several forays by Black artists into Yiddish jive. Cab Calloway was probably the best-known “Afro-Yiddishist,” mixing his own hepcat jive tongue-twisting with a constant flow of swinging Yiddishisms and spoofs on cantorial pyrotechnics with songs like the 1939 “Utt Da Zay.” Calloway’s exposure to both Yiddish and the rhythms of Jewish prayer were a result of his close friendship with his Odessa-born Jewish manager Irving Mills.

By the 60s, artists like jazz and soul singer Marlena Shaw found particular resonance between post-Holocaust Jewish songs that expressed the desire for a promised land and the civil rights movement. Shaw proved that the question posed in Yiddish song king Leo Fuld’s “Where Can I Go?” / “Vu Ahin Zol Ikn Geyn?” (based on a song Fuld heard performed by a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto) was not just a Jewish question, but also a Black one.

The Oscar-winning theme to the movie Exodus about the founding of Israel was covered by scores of Black artists–Jimmy Scott, Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton–who often saw the birth of Israel as a victory for the oppressed. Lena Horne’s incisive 1963 rant against civil rights abuses “Now!” was composed to the otherwise joyous tune of “Hava Nagila.” Old Testament stories were reborn as black spirituals as well.

The eight year (1964-1972) Broadway run of Fiddler on the Roof turned the show’s music into a must-cover songbook for just about everyone with a record deal. The jazz saxophone legend Cannonball Adderley re-imagined the whole Fiddler opus as swinging jazz instrumentals in 1964. The Temptations created a Fiddler medley in 1969 that was part gospel, part funk and part jazz. Songs of shtetl nostalgia had become American pop standards with room for everybody.
(taken from the Contemporary Jewish Museum website)


And I just had to share my all time favourite song from the exhibition and CD, the Temptations performing a medley from Fiddler on the Roof.  There is some footage of this performance on Youtube, however it is not very good quality, so you will just have to sit back and listen!  Or you can always get up and groove along like I do!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Different Kind of Weaving Love...


I came across this lovely clip from the IOU - Unique Handmade Clothes folk! It really speaks to my sensibilities but also they have a wonderful story to tell too!

About them: 
The IOU Project produces unique, handmade apparel based on fabrics handwoven in India. Because each textile is unique, we provide end buyers with the ability to trace the production process from finished goods right back to the weaver that hand-wove the fabric. The stories of how that item was created, of the people involved, of the customers who purchased them, are the essence of the the e-commerce social network which The IOU Project has built as a meeting place for a community that shares our brand values of authenticity, transparency, uniqueness and both social and environmental responsibility.

(Courtesy of the IOU Project Website)

Don't you wish all clothes and fabrics were made this way?   By the way, I will let you in on a little secret, I've always had quite a soft spot for Madras fabric.  I remember having shorts and dresses made from it as a child.  I think that I may need to get some gorgeous IOU Project Madras now that I know who is weaving it all!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yarn Love!

Delicious new weaving yarn
All wound up!  A skein of Ms Gusset hand dyed yarn.

When I am weaving up some tapestry masterpiece, I use a combination of materials in my weft. I often use quite a bit of linen to give a hard surface but I also keep my eye out for silk and cotton blends that add a luxurious sheen to the work.

I went and checked out the Victorian Spinners and Weavers annual market in Brunswick a couple of weeks ago and came across these lovely hand dyed skeins by Ms. Gusset. They are just perfect for skin toned areas in my tapestries and will definitely add a little something special to the work! I've already added some to the last tapestry that I have been weaving and the texture, colour and sheen are amazing.

Silk and wool

If you are unfamiliar with the most awesome Ms. Gusset then you better get with the program! Check out her website here and you can also follow her on twitter too. Very inspirational lady who is at one with colour!  I'm already thinking about what other colours I can get from her!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marimekko Winter: catwalking

I just saw the latest Winter 2012 ranges from Marimekko in this gorgeous catwalk presentation (YouTube clip above). I did manage to get a sneak peak at some of the items via one of my Marimekko contacts in the USA which I was getting quite excited about!  Oh and obviously big hair is going to be in, I better get back-combing!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Must Complete May: project green cowl...

My hot husband @elgatogrande modeling my latest knitted creation!

Well, I've managed to tick one project off my 'Must complete craft projects in May' list! One down and a whole bunch to go! The great thing is that I finished this project and my lovely husband decided that he didn't mind this cowl too much. Generally he hates wearing scarves but this one might be a winner.

Green cowl

Though, I will be wearing this baby too! I used a Lion Brand yarn for this cowl. It has a high amount of acrylic in it's composition which I'm not really digging. I have a feeling that it is probably going to pill up a bit but it is soft and warm so even if we get one season out of it, it will be worth it.

Woo hoo! One project down!

 So, one thing off the list!!! Let's see if I can get through all of this by the end of May! Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My May Craft Completion Promise...

I was looking around at my piles and bags of craft projects that are currently not completed.  I was a little horrified when I made a list of what needed to be done.  But you know, when you write something down, you get such a sense of accomplishment when you can finally cross that item off the list.

So, with much shame, here is my list...

May craft promise

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