Tuesday, November 23, 2010

9th October 2010 talk by Alan Tremain on The Quilter's Guild of NSW Inc. Scholarship and Textile Conservation advice

In 2009, Alan Tremain received a $2,500 scholarship from The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. to contribute to the cost of his visit to USA earlier this year. As documented on his application,  Alan’s main aims of the scholarship were to finalize practical applications for a quilt conservation, restoration and preservation thesis, knowledge acquisition to create a feasibility study for the establishment of an independent national quilt judging standard, and to observe and document quilt museum management, storage and exhibition principals. He wanted to interview prominent quilters as well as those involved in the historical preservation of quilt history like the creators of Mormon Trail Centre in Nebraska. As well, his aim included reintroducing Australian Quilt making to key museums, institutions and resource centres in America thus fostering greater exchange and interaction between our guild and exhibiting museums and quilt groups throughout the USA as we approach our 30th year.

 Alan's major purpose for the trip was to attend a nine day Nancy Kirk quilt restoration workshop in Omaha, Nebraska. He researched and acquired quilts, quilt tops, fabrics and patterns with a focus on the American Mid West. He also wanted to view quilt collections held by individuals and in both state and local museums in his travels.

In the state of Nebraska, Alan spent time at the Durham Museum in Omaha, the Mormon Trail Centre in Pleasance, the International Quilt Study Centre and Museum and the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln. He then travelled to Golden in Colorado where he visited the headquarters of Primedia, publisher of many quilt magazines, and viewed their QNL cover quilts exhibition, visited many historic houses, viewed a quilt at the Coors Brewery made from their ribbons and had access to some of the quilts in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum's archives by helping them move to a new location. With Judith Trager he was also able to view some private quilt collections in Boulder. When he visited nursing homes to track down old quilts and their stories from their owners, he was lucky enough to be given some quilt patterns, quilt tops and fabrics.

Alan also took advantage of his time there to buy some quilts, quilt tops, Mountain Mist patterns, 1930s diecut quilt kits, cheater cloth fabrics from the 1940s to 1960s, quilt blocks and a number of feedsacks, all of which he showed us. We were very interested to see the crimplene quilt made from blocks of crossed tulips that was given to him by an 85 year old ex-dressmaker he visited in a nursing home.

For those interested in increasing their knowledge of old quilts, Alan recommended the Barbara Blackman “Clues in the Calico”  e-book, “Quilts of the Golden West” and the “Fabric Dating Kit Book” by Cindy Brick, and the Quilt Study books that have been published for each state in USA. For removing stains slowly in textiles, Alan uses the Herbon Prewash Stain Remover which is available from health food stores.

Alan gave advice on the care, conservation and presentation of lace items, items of clothing, quilts and quilt tops that had been brought along by the workshop attendees.

As a result of his trip, Alan has increased his store of research notes and photographs, and hopes to contribute to a national standard for quilt research.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quilt Study Group of NSW Goes Hi-Tech - August 14th at Powerhouse Museum

Karen Fail and Irene Manion
Irene Manion is passionate about fabric and stitch, and all the textile work she showed the Quilt Study Group of NSW at the Powerhouse Museum on August 14th exhibited her desire for perfection, a keen eye for design and her perseverance with detail that left me in awe.

Irene is a Visual Arts Teacher and has been for the past 20 years. Nothing could be more wonderful for students than to have a practising artist for a teacher who continues to experiment and investigate new techniques in her textile art. We were certainly impressed with her array of technique swatches – some which worked and others that didn’t.

In the 70s Irene experimented with batik designs trying to capture the landscapes in the Blue Mountains. This led her to develop a complex multi-layered dying and waxing techniques. Examples of this early work were breathtaking and made it hard to believe that only batik techniques were used. The detail was wonderful.

Over the last ten years, Irene has changed direction and is now using modern technology in her textile work. She incorporates dye sublimation prints of images she has developed from her own digital photos and drawings. These are modified in programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. She then has these images commercially printed onto fabric and generously provided us with a list of suppliers should we decide to experiment in the same way. We even had an opportunity to transfer print one of Irene’s images onto fabric for future use. Some of us even managed to get three images onto fabric from one print.

Once Irene has the image she wants, she uses computerised machine embroidery or free machine embroidery to enhance the digitally printed surface. She had many examples for us to look at but most impressive were the lorikeets, a beautiful wall hanging with birds in flight and at rest. Irene showed us a few of the printed fabrics which she rejected, again demonstrating her determination to get exactly what she wanted. Eventually the background fabric was ready with fewer  birds than had initially been planned so additional 3D birds were added. These were embroidered, padded and backed before being added to the background. We were quite in awe as we appreciated the work and time investment for this.

Irene very generously brought along her most recent work, which was part of “A Conversation with Rain” exhibition at Fairfield Art Gallery and Museum earlier in the year. Everyone spent at least some of their time examining this delightful work carefully.

Fabric and stitch, it seems can come in all guises and Irene Manion has certainly mastered the use of modern technology in her textile art and inspired some quilt study groupers to expand their horizons.

Report from Karen Fail.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Annette Gero 4th December 2010 lecture on Inlaid Quilts

As winner of the 2009 Quilters’ Guild of NSW Inc. Scholarship, Annette Gero will be talking to us about her research in Berlin on Inlaid quilts at the Guild's December meeting at Burwood. Annette helped curate and learn from a major quilt exhibition in Berlin, which was the world’s first on woollen inlaid patchwork.

Inlaid patchwork quilts? Remember the 1776 quilt which Pam Holland reproduced? This quilt uses a technique little known today, but which was used 200 years ago. This technique is known as inlaid or Silesian piecing. The technique itself may be indicative of the origin of piecing.

You probably all know that Annette has acquired one of these quilts - the House of Commons Quilt (with all the people in the centre) - which was made by the same technique. Due to her ownership of this quilt, Annette was involved in the Berlin exhibition. She will show us slides of the other inlaid quilts that have been found and tell some of the amazing stories behind them. Some of these quilts are also in Annette’s book, 'The Fabric of Society', which will be on sale after the talk.

The talk will take place as part of the Guild meeting which starts at 1pm on Saturday, the 4th December 2010. The venue for the talk is the Burwood RSL, 96 Shaftsbury Avenue, Burwood, NSW.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Report on the April 24th 2010 Hexie Madness event

The Quilt Study Group of NSW (a sub-committee of The Quilters’ Guild of NSW Inc.) held their April meeting at The Powerhouse Museum on Saturday April 24th 2010. All members of the Guild are welcome to attend and there are no longer additional fees.

This event titled “Hexie Madness” was designed as a giant ‘Show and Tell’ featuring hexagon quilts in all shapes and sizes. Members were asked to bring and talk about their hexagon quilts. The turn out was most impressive with over 40 participants and many, many more quilts. Brigitte Giblin (who has been a previous guest speaker for the Sydney Quilt Study Group) was unable to attend but kindly sent 4 of her recent quilts plus a number of quilts by her students. They all feature hexagons, some in conjunction with appliqué and other paper piecing designs.

Jennifer Corkish brought a number of her quilts, again incorporating hexagons within the design and she even had a few new and unfinished designs for students to anticipate making in future classes. A number of her students also brought along their hexie quilts made in Jennifer’s classes.  

Pam Curtis could not attend but generously sent her prize winning hexie quilts for us to look at.

Daphne Massie brought the first block in her project to replicate an old quilt found by her daughter; hopefully she will bring more blocks to future meetings.

The highlight of the show was the quilt made by Nolene McGuran which won Best of Show at the Quilters’ Guild of NSW Inc. quilt show some years ago. Unfortunately we did have any quilt stands so we couldn’t show this masterpiece of design to its fullest potential but at the end we laid it out on the floor so everyone could get a good look.

At the end of the meeting the room was ringed with tables piled high with hexie quilts. I was so busy running around I didn’t get the chance to count them or to get the names of many of the makers - my apologies. Most of the members of the audience were fans of “Hexie” quilts, and those who weren’t left the meeting as converts. For example, on a recent Guild bus trip to Wagga Wagga, Margy Syrette was surrounded by quilters making hexagons of various sizes so she decided to try her hand at doing some. She was delighted to present her completed quilt.

There was so much to inspire us with the variety of design and fabric. It was a great day. Thank you to all who came along for bringing along your hexie masterpieces and helping publicise this most wonderful madness! Sandra Lyons.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Creating with Textiles using Modern Technology with Irene Manion

Bring Show and Tell of any textiles in your collection that use modern technology.
Free to all Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. members. Afternoon Tea provided.
Note: You do not need to pay an entry fee to the Powerhouse Musuem if you say you are going to the Quilt Study Group meeting.

Irene Manion is an exceptional textile artist who enjoys using modern technology in her work. In the 70s her work consisted of wall hangings depicting the landscape of the Blue Mountains using batik and developed complex multilayered dying and waxing techniques. In the last decade she has moved into working with modern technology. She creates dye sublimation prints of images developed from her own digital photos and drawings which are modified in programmes such as Photoshop and Illustrator. They are then commercially printed onto fabric. The next stage involves either computerised machine embroidery or free machine embroidery onto the digitally printed surface. Some quilting or 3-D development of the image is then used to give texture and depth to the final piece.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1930s Quilts Event Report

On the 27th February 2010 at the Powerhouse Museum, Jennie Burton gave the Quilt Study Group of NSW members and friends a 30 minute talk about 1930s quilts. She brought along some 1930s quilts, quilt tops and feed sacks from her collection for us to see. She told us that she is drawn to these quilts for their colourful scrappiness and put the making of these quilts into historical perspective, referring to the influence of the depression years of the 1930s, changes in fabric dyes, the mass production of bed coverings and then the revival of quilt making between the wars.

During the Depression the number of advertisements, patterns and articles about quilts in newspapers increased so that many women had scrapbooks containing planned quilts (not dissimilar to us now). Popular patterns included the Dresden Plate, Butterfly, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Sunbonnet Sue, and Double Wedding Ring because they all involved using up fabric scraps. “Use up, wear out, make do or do without” was the motto for these women. Quilting in the 1930s also provided a way for some to make money by designing quilt patterns, making and selling quilts and quilt kits and by winning prizes at quilt shows. Quilts were also a softer side of the Great Depression and the importance of sewing and quilting bees took the quilters’ minds off their troubles.

The feed sacks, which provided cheap fabric for the 1930s quilts, were originally made from plain calico and were hand sewn by the farmers with hand written labels. Later they were sewn by machine and had pre-printed labels that had to be soaked off in order to use them. The feed sack bag and sack manufacturers then came up with the idea of using patterned fabrics thus leading to their use in making curtains, dresses, quilts and even underwear. The finer grades of feed sacks were used for holding sugar or flour, the coarser ones for corn or chicken feed. Now they are discovering whole attics full of feed sacks which are coming onto the market.

Jennie then showed us some American feed sacks which prompted Annette Gero to show us her Australian feed sack. Among the many wonderful quilts from Jennie’s collection we saw one unusual quilt with black baskets, another with a yellow background and a vibrant ‘Trip Around the World’ quilt with such perfectly matching fabric that she believes it could only have been from a quilt kit.

Many of those attending the talk then brought out their quilt and feed sack treasures for us to enjoy. Annette Gero, Alan Tremain, Karen Fail and Melinda Smith had quite a few of their own 1930s quilts, quilt tops and feed sacks for us to look at. There were some unusual patterns and colours amongst the quilts including a number of embroidered quilt tops, a feed sack pre-printed for embroidering and one cot quilt – these usually do not survive. The show and tell generated a long discussion about dating fabrics and patterns from this era and the appropriate techniques for handling and cleaning such fabrics and quilts. By the end of the event, we had more than 35 quilts and quilt tops, along with 11 feed sacks decorating the room for our closer inspection.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Helen Lancaster - A Retrospective

14th Aug 2010 - Contemporary Quiltmaker Helen Lancaster will bring a retrospective of her work to the Quilt Study Group of NSW at the Powerhouse Museum from 2pm to 4pm.
Many of us have enjoyed wonderful contemporary textile exhibitions at the Fairfield Gallery over the last 10 years. Its commitment to textile art is unique among the galleries of Sydney and is largely due to the enthusiasm and support of conceptual environmentalist, Helen. Since her first exhibition in 1980, Helen has used textiles in unique ways to make comments about the environment, focusing on the Great Barrier Reef.
This event will be held in the Powerhouse Learning Centre, at the PowerhouseMuseum.
Entry is free for members of the Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. and afternoon tea will be provided.
Access to the Powerhouse Museum is via the walkwayover from Chinatown and by walking from Central Station. Seehttp://www.powerhousemuseum.com/visit/howtogethere.asp#public_transport for details. If you contact the event owner, Sandra Lyons, on 9589 2537 beforehand it is possible to arrange for car parking in the Powerhouse's parking area for disabled drivers. Or you can use the drop off area near the entrance to the car park which provides easy access to Level 2 where our events are held.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Skint, Talk by Dr Annette Gero

Skint: Exhibition talk by Dr Annette Gero.
Sunday 18 April 2.00pm — 3.00pm.
Free with museum entry.
Annette Gero, author of “The Fabric of Society” and notable collector of Australian textiles will bring in samples of her extensive collection from the 1920s and 1930s for viewing. Annette will speak about the culture of ‘making do’ from ordinary Australians in the period between the wars and about the recent revival of handicrafts such as rag rugs and “waggas”. Annette’s collection is extensive and culturally significant to the social history of Australia.If you have a “wagga”, quilt or textile item form the Great Depression years, we invite you to bring it in to show.
In conjunction with Skint! Making do in the Great Depression
Sunday 18 April 2.00pm — 3.00pm Free with museum entry

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Making do in the Great Depression explores the spirit and flavour of life in Sydney in the 1930s: the community spirit and political activism, everyday life and key events and personalities of the period. It brings together evocative images, objects, oral histories and film to help us understand the story of Sydney in the Great Depression.
Major sponsor Museum of Sydney
Saturday 27 March — Sunday 25 July, 2010
'Block boys at St Peters' (detail), Sam Hood, 22 April 1935, Courtesy of Mitchell Library,
State Library of New South Wales
The Museum of Sydney: Location: Corner Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney, NSW 2000
Contact: 02 9251 5988
Admission:Adult $10
Child/Concession $5
Family $20
Members free
Hours: Daily 9.30am – 5pm