Afternoon Tea with Nana

Memories are part of my artwork. As a child my Nana let us make mud pies in her garden. We were allowed to pick flowers and decorate them. The best part was she came with handbag over her arm and bought our creations. We then set off to the corner dairy where I soon learnt that vanilla, a new flavour, was not a fruity ice-cream. 

This book was made for the NZ Association of Book Crafts exhibition. Using muslin as a base, serviettes and photos of cupcakes were glued, collage style on to the muslin. These were photocopied and formed the pages.

The process in pictures.

Art from Family Photos

Old photos have an energy that fills me with happiness. Sepia or black and white they have distinct clues about the era they were taken. The clothes, the stance, the interaction. Dominant genes passed on can show uncanny similarities.

When a baby is born relatives search for likenesses. “He looks so like his Grandmother.” 

“Where does his red hair come from?"

These inherited characteristics make you part of your DNA family.

Now with DNA testing kits you can have a link to family you never knew you had. 

I’m about to start using old photos on fabric to create my next piece. 

An Interactive Artwork

When my sister visits she take great pride in rearranging the ‘Cushies.’ This physical presence of her contemplating her next move, appears like a draughts player with a new strategy.

The humble pin cushion is its own work of art, with a new artwork everyday. This re arranging is a bit like life. You need to make adjustments, change things up a little, make something appear new and different.

 Maybe it’s become an interactive artwork.

Figure Hugging or Not

My Grandmother always wore a corset. It was important for that generation.

Body image seems to change with different generations. Its OK to wear a corset on the outside of the body these days.

While studying at EIT I touched on this subject with these images.

I'm beginning to explore this again in a new artwork. 

Art in the Garden

Warmer days bring more interest in the garden as the dormant plants burst with lush growth. My garden is full of weirdly crazy art too.

Remembering Strawberries and Cream

My special interest is art books. Something a bit different. My first book swap topic was Food. 

I asked myself questions. How many pages does a book need?

Does it have to have traditional binding?

How can I make something very different?

I believe book binding can take many forms.

I set my own challenge and hauled out my stack of serviettes. They have great ideas in them. 

I chose the strawberry one and set about making a Strawberry and Cream Book. The strawberry book resting on the cream cushion like a special ring at a wedding ceremony.

The process set out in photos.

Feel free to ask Questions.

Ironing with Style

Taking a saw to pages of a book is not something for everyone. Neither is using an iron on wet dye and hearing it sizzle but what an adventure.  I also like the furry edges of the paper. The heated bubbles produce some amazing patterns. There is no firm result for the outcome. That's the mystery of this process. You never know what you’re going to get. 

In the photos below I have drawn around images that I see on the pages. 

I have 2 irons for this process as they have different patterns on the base.

My iron has become a friend for the first time in my life. Oh! And the dye bottle.

Memories and Making

In 2012 my Grandson was smuggled out of New Zealand to Cape Town, South Africa. This left a huge gap in all our lives. 

To cope with the loss and to pass on family memories that I may never have the opportunity to share with him, I made him a book. 

I treasure these books. Not because I made them but because one day it will be a link to my Grandson. 

Each day I wonder what he is doing and where he is and if he receives the things I send.

My one book has grown into 8 books now. This will be his New Zealand family history. One day he will know he had a great family who were denied access to his precious world. 

One page is special as my late husband, his Grandfather wrote in the one of the books.  

This year Joseph was 8. We all love him and miss him

I call these Joseph Book’s

They measure 140mm x 75mm

Inside are drawings, photos, presents I've sent and cards I’ve made, copies of postcards about New Zealand, family photos and events, memories of times spent in the first 2 years of his life and jottings of what Bizzel, cat is up too.  



The Making of a Model

Several years ago a group of us got together to create a Tree Cosy for the Napier Main Street as part of a promotion. Working with creative people is always fun especially when it involves something rather large.

We had several ‘working bees’ and encouraging hours of crochet and chat.

Our Magnificent Aquatic Goddess (MAG) was complete.

Here is her story in pictures 

Learning a New technique

Beading and embroidery go hand in hand. It’s not something I've done before but the process is somewhat challenging. At first I started with silk thread and chain stitch. When part way through I moved onto the beading. Three beads at a time on a fine needle and then a knot at the back to make sure the stitch didn’t come undone. 

I was surprised how quickly it grew. 

My cat showed a complete lack of interest. 

Triggers from the Christchurch Earthquake

What Triggers a new artwork? My Nana lived in Christchurch.

As a young child we holidayed with Nana and Papa. Nana couldn’t drive and the bus stop over the road was very convenient. She along with her sister would board the ‘goody red bus.’ With their super dress sense and handbags over their arm this was a weekly adventure culminating with afternoon tea at Beaths.

When the Christchurch earthquake struck 22nd February 2011 my mind went back to my early memories and wondering how my Nana would cope with the liquifaction, her beloved cathedral broken and the area she lived in red zoned. 

I painted a picture.  


Mini is Mighty

The rules stated that the mini book could be no bigger than 2 inches. Now that's small. 

A topic was given and those people who had entered communicated. A deadline was set and then posted to the recipient.

I always felt remorse when my first book was sent away. After that I made two so I could keep one. I'm glad I did as I have so many treasured mini books that I have been sent and have made. 

It's amazing what you can achieve when there is a deadline

Turning the Page

An artwork from an idea to fruition is sometimes fraught with decisions. I made the pages for this book and then stitching it together needing resolving. It sat unloved for some time before I came up with the idea of stitching old curtain hooks on to the spine. I found a brass ashtray and a poker and with my husbands help the book was attached and easy to flip through and turn the page.

Just One More

An embroidery journey is an addictive experience. One eyelet a day or as I call it a, 'daisy a day' stitch will achieve results. It didn’t end up being one a day as the urge to grab another colour from the stash and continue the row was strong. Just one more

When Autumn Leaves Fall

Textures and threads draw me in. Seeing the composition of fabric and feeling it's textures is appealing. My mother was a milliner and the threads she used about 80 years ago are still in perfect condition. Seeing her handwriting is a special bonus.

June 1st signals the beginning of winter in New Zealand.  Here is my 43rd ‘Cushy number' celebrating the colours of Autumn. 

What's in a Pattern?

Everyone sees colours differently. You know the old fashioned saying, ' blue and green should never be seen.’ That plays to the rebel in me and for years I have mixed all colours together. 

I like the deconstructed look of making my own fabric where the fibre and threads are randomly placed and then stitched together. 

Are You a Onesie Maker?

When I did my Diploma of Visual Art and Design at the Eastern Institute of Technology, it was all about the process. Take one stage at a time and develop that with drawings and once you have achieved multiple drawings choose one to develop into an artwork.

My brain works in a different way. I’m more an intuitive maker and don’t like the idea of a ‘onesie.’ 

To make many, is to give strength in numbers. A large picture of many parts that the viewer needs to keep visiting to understand and see the progression of my work. If it’s cohesive it flows and therefore there is more understanding about it. Most of my ideas come as I'm making one. The next idea develops and this progressive approach gives the collection. There is no distraction and the high level of focus and engagement usually results in a successful body of work. That's my goal anyway. Maybe its called obsessive art but for me its enjoyable.

‘Cushy Numbers’ are a collection of pin cushions that make craft into art. I was aiming for 20 but have produced so many more.