Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year's Wishes

   I am wishing to all
   the joy to explore nature
   the patience to see it
   the heart to feel it
   the peace to breathe it
   the health to touch it
   the courage to embrace it
   and the desire to protect it.

   May peace be with you and our planet this new year.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Take two

So back to the drawing board, post que sera sera, I still had to begin again for my custom order. During this time the olive dress has found a home and is jetting off to Spain, with a pretty appropriate name for such a jaunt!

 Second time around, I did go to the beach and do the big soak in preparation for the dyeing. Then dried, then dipped in milk and dried. Finally came the eucalyptus dyebath, which tended to look like a milk tea in a saucepan. Did the trick though and the final colour was what I was aiming for. Only hicup with this mordancing is the odor of milk that requires a good vinegar soak after several washes with olive oil soap, as its an odor that is not the easiest to remove. A good scan on the net led me to the vinegar soak, which will perhaps need to be repeated again. I think I'll try the soy milk option next time I need to dye cellulose fibres.

 Reversible cotton muslin and silk nuno felt dress.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Que sera sera continued....

Well finally I went for the "if you can't beat it, join it" attitude and threw rust into the whole prepared dye pot. Call me a conformist, but I wanted a harmonised colour. It turned into a wonderful olive green, totally unplanned, but what's life if not a surprise?

Monday, 5 December 2011

que sera sera

Ive spent my week making another dress for a custom order. This one needed to be dyed at the end, so was to transform from white to a eucalyptus golden tone. Fairly simple colour to achieve, only complication is the dress is a mixture of muslin cotton, silk and wool. the later two dye very easily, the former with a needed mordant. ok, out with the notebook of dyeing tricks. did my mordant of alum and washing soda, simmered for one hour then left in solution overnight. fine. went to bed.
next morning after dropping kids at school, returned to my reward of coffee (for getting through breakfast madness), ready for a ripper day of dyeing. 

Disaster, at least for my intentions of a one toned dress. i know India Flint would a) have used sea water and milk or such, but b) would not be phased by 'accidental' creative variations. but alas, i must be far more anal than my guru. sigh.
my pot (stainless steel and new) seems to have freaked with the mixture and developed rust overnight. brilliant. not what you want when dipping into eucalyptus dye, unless you want greys to be your result. so i tried the lemon and salt rust removal method. i tried the washing detergent method. i tried and i tried and i tried. sigh. finally after rincing it all out, i had infact created an amazing mixture of mordants on my white dress, full of huge potential of unknowns. i asked myself, ok , what do i do now? this is not at all going to be what was planned. finally i sang doris day in my head 'que sera sera' and threw it into the steaming pot.

and then whilst holding breath, i watched what i expected. tones, lots of tones, but instead of grey, they were browns. dark brown, mid, gold. really bark like. for a eucalyptus mad girl, this was very interesting. but will the client like it? that is the unknown. but panicing wont help, right?

meanwhile, i went back to my work table to find that it had become a spectator sport, this natural dyeing.

and truely too interesting to not get involved. yep, thats our wildlife in sydney, goofy, naughty but very endearing (unless ripping your window frames apart) 'cockies'.

to be continued....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Indigo indigo indigo

I've been rather busy of late with some custom orders that resulted from my show at Timeless Textiles gallery in Newcastle. It has led me back to the indigo dye pot for one of the creations, and here a some peeps at the procedure. 

I didnt use the traditional fermented urine vat, it is a chemical vat. I will be experimenting in the future with other fermented vat options. This technique was taught to me at Couleur Garance in Lauris, France, at the centre for natural dyeing set up by Michel Garcia. Despite the small amount of chemicals used in the vat such as hydrosulfite and ammonia, it is still considered natural dyeing. I am keen to try the fermented vat developed by Michel Garcia and see if I can get it to work. Ah indigo, you are so coquine!

Friday, 21 October 2011

A happy day

Just the right amount of quiet contemplation, exhilaration of spring, busy bee collecting leaves and creativity. Doesn't come much better...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Carbon tax

The emissions trading legislation passed the House of Representatives this morning in Australia. Reading the channel 7 news story on yahoo, it is as antagonistic, fear mongering and simple minded as I assumed it would be. Mr Abbott's comments are as self projecting as ever, where his only interest is to be elected, with absolutely no global perspective of responsibility for the well being of this planet. I cannot say I am 100% behind Julia Gillard, I was personally happier with Kevin Rudd. He was the first Australian prime minister in many years that I could raise my head about and not feel ashamed of. From my distant perspective from the northern hemisphere I felt he was the first for a very long time to realise that Australia is a part of a whole planet, where we are just one group of diverse people sharing the land, water and air with many others and where our actions affect the whole. Unfortunately the prevailing feeling in Australia is all too often that we own this land, we can do as we like with it and no one else should make us feel guilty of exploiting it to the best of our abilities. We are a nation of ostriches, rather than emus.
When I returned to Australia this year I was relieved it was a labour government for one and I am now relieved that this carbon tax that is so needed, has finally gotten the green light. Stop panicing Australia, and take a pause from watching the television. You dont need to be told by the media what is right, what is correct and just. Just quietly listen inside of yourself for a moment and look at nature around you. If you dont want to pay more in the form of this very small tax in reality, then consume less. That is the whole point. Reduce. It's the only sensible future. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how many wise people tell us in simple terms the stark reality of the future of this planet. If it doesn't touch the pocket of the common person, they won't change their current way of living. Hence why this tax is just the beginning of what is needed to try to wake up this nation and many others.
This land is one of ridiculous levels of consumption. Sydney is the most blatantly self indulgent city I have ever seen in Australia and it saddens me. You only have to drive around the suburbs on throw out day to see the excessive wealth and disconnection to the consequences of production and its pollution. There is little respect for the earth on the front lawns. Sigh. 

So thankyou to the house of representatives.....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Last week of Dancing Lightly

This is the last week to catch my exhibition at Timeless Textiles, Newcastle. I am thrilled with the response the show has recieved and to have had the opportunity to share my unique creations of wearable art with the wonderful, unique people who have passed through that door. Thankyou Anne!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Radio interview

If you'd like a better insight into my work and who I am, have a listen to my radio interview with Jill Emberson on ABC radio Newcastle, by clicking on the link below.

I'm the emotional lush, bottom second from right, with the lovely sprites who helped present my work on opening night. Thankyou!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Opening of Dancing Lightly

We had a lovely opening night full of nature's sprites weaving their way amongst the leaves...
thankyou to Anne, Jillian, Jane, Chelsea, Steph, Jen, Sal, Steph, Toni and Bev.... much appreciated.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dancing lightly, from France to Australia

I am thrilled to be having this solo show beginning Thursday the 22nd September at Timeless Textiles Gallery in Newcastle, Australia.
During this time my online boutique with Etsy will be closed, hence the empty space above. The collection is available online at

Friday, 9 September 2011

Haute de gamme Eco chic

Haute de gamme original hand sculpted nuno silk dress. For a one of a kind woman with eco chic desires. All silks and softest merino wool are hand dyed using eucalyptus leaves and bark, accompanied by a small french pot for surprises.

photographs by Ashleigh King

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Paperbarks in the park

"Paperbark" silk nuno felt, hand dyed using various eucalyptus varieties and a humble french pot... 
designed and felted by hand in the land of eucalypts

A morning at the park with lovely friend, her little lad and his Popy, thankyou!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Paperbark Dress

Paperbark inspired dresses had been growing in my mind for years while I was living far away in France. Since returning to Australia and having this gorgeous tree in my backyard, my dreams of hand dyed layers of silk using plants, with their sensuous layers placed one apon the other, combined with fine fibres of wool, sculpted into clothing... 
my creative soul is finding peace and joy... amongst the house cleaning, school lunches, washing and all those other joys...

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Sneak preview...... solo show.........................
  ......... September....... Newcastle, Australia ...........................

Monday, 15 August 2011

Revealed Exhibition

I am thrilled to be participating in this wonderful exhibition that begins on Thursday the 25th August until Wednesday 14th September in Newcastle, NSW. This will be my first exhibition in Australia, and amongst wonderful company!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Permaculture and myself

An admirer comes to call
I was recently asked in what way do I see that Permaculture has effected my work. Permaculture is a design process resulting from the considered observation of a system, such as a home environment, and all of its interacting elements that need to support one another in a complex or diverse web to achieve a level of sustainability. It has 10 basic principles and three ethics to explain these desired inter-relationships. Earth care, people care, profit share being the ethics. Each element must have at least three functions being one of my most importantly held principles from the 10. No freeloaders, no selfish elements, everything must share and support at least two other elements. These can be things like the air, water, soil, plants, sun, people, animals, insects; every element in the system must be multi purpose so as to create a strong, roll with the punches syteme that is not fragile and devastated by one major effect such as wind, rain, heat, or unemployment, illness etc.

School garden project, San José de Gracia, Mexico, 1998
I spent my early 20's creating a wonderful oasis in my suburban backyard in Perth, after having done an introduction to permaculture in 1992. From there I eventually taught permaculture at Curtin University in the School of Art garden. We won environmental awards and I was involved in this program from the inception in 1994 and then later as a lecturer 1996-97. In between I travelled the globe, visiting permaculture projects in the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, NZ and Australia. I volunteered on several of these projects and shared knowledge and enthusiasm with the local people and learnt many things along the way from them. I then obtained my permaculture diploma in education and site development from these experiences.

Desert permaculture, San José de Gracia, Mexico

I have always wanted to live a self sufficient life. Its been hounding at me for more than twenty years. I've not achieved it so far although I've seen some close to it in my journeys and am building as ever my dream along with my beloved in our minds and hopefully one of these decades it may come into fruition. But for me permaculture is not just about growing your own vegetables and fruits, chickens, and not shopping at the supermarket. It's more about being aware of the greater results of your choices. Of perhaps not creating your own electricity for whatever reason, but of choosing a responsible form of electricity for example. Or of buying clothing but thinking of where they come from, of what proceedures went into making those fiberes and the dyeing process and the factory and the people who made them. Of their quality of life after we have bought our cheap clothing, but so expensive in others lives but not on our pocket. For myself, permaculture started me on my path of trying to consider as much as possible the factors involved in my everyday choices. And gee there are so many, every day.

With my work, my aim is to in the near future create clothing with organic merino wool and organic silk. I want to be responsible for choosing materials that I know the history of, am involved in supporting small but so important industries that are responsibly producing these fibres. This is my direction that I am craving to arrive at. There is obviously a larger cost to the pocket in this choice, but to feel honest to myself and my ethics, it is what I need to do. I am thrilled to have found a supplier of certified organic peace silk where the silk is grown in small villages in India in a project to support the local farmers and where they are paid a correct salary for their work. Where the land, people and silk worms(!) are living a sustainable relationship that is not polluting or poisoning in any of the processes involved in the manufacturing of the silk fabric. I have also found a supplier for certified organic merino wool, again where chemicals are no part in any of the stages of production of the wool, and where mulesing is not practised on the sheep. So here's to the future!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Getting to know you....

Walk to school, 
pick up leaves

walk to café, pick up leaves

walk in yard, pick up leaves

walk to car, pick up leaves

walk in forest, pick up bark 
and leaves

eyes down on the ground, curiosity with every step of the daily journey,
what colour will this one give?

getting to know my local flora, amongst the rain rain rain rain rain rain rain.................

Friday, 15 July 2011

More pondering...

I'm just thinking about how we all have our own focal points depending on our own personal situations, whether we be parents, and then of what age are our children; perhaps single, or in a couple with no kids, or gay; city dwelling or country, which country, so many many influences... whether we or a loved one suffers from a serious illness, a disability, one of the many heavy burdens that so stongly influences our every day lives.. all of these factors and many more influence our focal point and charge our priorities, our choices in our everyday lives. It's all so personal and subjective to our own pathway before us. I only know mine, you have your own. Much of what I think about may be totally clear to you, or totally foreign, depending on your own pathway in life and understanding. Respecting different views despite them not being our own core values is a part of living harmoniously on this planet, even though it can seem so impulsively difficult to do.
One of the things about moving home to my country of origin is that I feel more deeply wounded when I disagree with the opinions of the press, or the speaches by our politicians or the other people within my society. When you live in a foreign land, even if you have that nationality and can vote in their elections, it's still very comforting to think if you disagree with their stances, "its ok, its not my home, my voice". But coming home to Australia, despite it being a labour government, and a woman as prime minister (ta dah), it's still somewhat disappointing. Not only in the complexity of attempts to combat the massive problem of climate change, but even more so in the press and therefore public opinion, which differs quite radically from the european view. (In France for example, I never once heard the questioning of whether climate change is 'real'). sigh. But that's my view, perhaps not yours, you may find me equally a fruit cake for spending so much time worrying about the fact that the school canteen gives out approximately 100 polystyrene cups each day to hold a hot chocolate in little hands and then be totally non biodegradable and polluting to our environment whether through incineration or land fill.. (  and how is that encouraging our children to take positive action in their future we are surposedly helping educate and create with them?  Another of the thorns in my side is the teflon coating on my son's trousers for school, which has such a toxic load of dangerous chemicals seeping into his fragile skin each day.... as I said, we all have our own focal points. (

I dont pretend to have an answer for everyone, I just try to do the best for my family and environment with my own options and choices everyday. Its an enormous challenge, but I prefer to look about myself and reflect rather than keep my head in the sand, at least most of the time.