Thursday, April 25, 2013


On Saturday I had an amazing creative experience: I did a letterpress workshop for the whole day and came home with 3 different projects.  It was held at GTO Printers in Birkenhead, which was super-handy for me.  I did it with two friends, so it was even more fun.  Before I went I had very little knowledge of how it all works, I just knew that it gives a beautiful, tactile result.

Today I have much respect for the old type-setters who used to print entire volumes by hand. Something that may take us about 2 minutes on the computer takes so much longer if you do it with letterpress.  Take this little alphabet I did (I think the font isMonotype Bodoni): I centered it by eye alone and it took many goes before I had this result, but it felt so satisfying to get it right.  If you make a mistake, or don't like what you've done (for example swap a capital letter for a lower case), you get out the little key to loosen up your frame, replace the letters, then fill it up again with small metal plates so it all sits tight and then it's time to use the key to tighten the frame again. Which is why you have to pay very careful attention to what you do!

This poster was set with huge old wooden type.  We had a hard time making them all fit, but it turned out really well.  I decided to glitter up the only deliberate word we put in, but I see the word 'rock' managed to squeeze itself in too.

I enjoyed the experience so much, I took my boys along to the Birkenhead Library yesterday to give them a taste of it too. Graham, who owns GTO, has an arrangement with the library to store his Albion press there and in return they use it to do little poster printing sessions with kids on Wednesdays and Sundays (more information on this page) in the school holidays. 

They set their names into a 'Wanted' poster.  Can you spot the spelling mistake in the word villain? It reads: WANTED the villain Daniel Superbad with Cunning Plan and Nasty Sidekick.  Hehe...

Monday, April 15, 2013

QSI Hexagons

Welcome to my secret squirrel world where I do quilt forensics...

The other day I found a small hexagon quilt at the op shop for $5.  I was very impressed with the colours, but it had a growing hole in the middle, so I thought about making it into some cushion covers. The other night at Lucky Penny I was raving about the spontaneity of this type of quilting, done long before 1/4" seams and rotary cutters. It's random and lovely.  It's all hand-stitched.  I wanted to give it new batting and do a bit of hand-quilting to give it some love.  Then I opened it up and discovered this:

It's unbelievable how somebody could keep track of all those shapes; they were all randomly cut without a template. There's no consistent seam allowance, no ironing, lots of bunched up bits and not a chance of me getting through so many layers with a needle.  This is what it looks like after an ironing session:

Today I did a bit of machine quilting, gave it a blue linen backing and red piping. I'm pretty happy with the result:

The massive woolen blanket I got on the same day had very frayed edges, so I've given it a lovely floral binding (Reprodepot fabric from Spotlight).  I initially thought about giving it a satin border, but at $4.50 a metre (and needing around 9m!), that was never going to happen. And Plan B turned out much nicer than a piece of satin ribbon ever would, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Zip Pouch workshop this weekend

If you're an Aucklander keen to come to my Zip Pouch workshop at Handmade, but can't make the trip to Wellington, here's a good option.  I'm teaching a similar workshop this Sunday for Make and Cake at Lopdell House.

I might be mistaken, but I think it's about $20 for the workshop plus tea and cake afterwards. You can email Lisa at Lopdell House for more information and to book. It starts at 1.30 on Sunday the 7th.  Please note that it will be held at Lopdell's temporary venue at 5 Totara Ave, New Lynn.

You need to bring your own:

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread to match your fabric
  • Vintage or new cotton fabric (30cm to 50cm square; the bigger, the better)
  • Zip (20cm) I have some available for $3
I hope to see you there!