Saturday, 31 March 2012

One perfect day

One of my favourite authors is Sydney writer Kate Grenville.  And my favourite Kate Grenville book is The Idea of Perfection.  Well, today was my idea of perfection.

If you had to be in Sydney, today was the day.  On the last day of the first month of autumn, it was as warm as summer's day.  The sky was blue, the gardens looked spectacular, the lawns were greener than should have been legally possible and Sydney Harbour positively sparkled.

Today was the first opportunity we had to see our daughter's art hung in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  She was a finalist in the Sulman Prize which was announced yesterday.  She and her husband had spent quite a bit of time at the Gallery over the last couple of days, viewing the hanging and keeping up their strength with the odd glass of champagne, poor things.

Yesterday they were privileged to be present at the media announcement of the winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, the three most prestigious art prizes in the country.  They rubbed shoulders with some of Australia's most esteemed artists and avoided tripping over TV cables.

This morning they met us at the Gallery so that we could experience the joy of seeing our daughter's work in their delightful company.

Congratulations to the winner of the Sulman Nigel Milsom.  The prize of $30,000 must have made him very happy!  

Sadly, we were not permitted to take photos, but here's one our son-in-law took during the Gallery's function for the artists the day before the announcement of the winners. The Gallery had hosted a lunch (with champagne, of course), so The Artist was justifiably happy.

While we were standing near Maz's entry, I noticed a couple of women stop in front of it uttering positive noises - you know - oooo, ah, etc.  I smiled at them and advised that the artist was standing right behind them.  If you can't embarrass your children at some point in your life, where's the fun in living?

To complete the perfect day, our daughter and son-in-law took us to celebratory lunch at the nearby Botanic Gardens Restaurant where we had ... more champagne.

If you are in Sydney or are planning a visit any time up until 3 June, I highly recommend a visit to the Gallery.

Today was one of those special days which we will remember with pride for the rest of our lives.  My idea of perfection.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Everything old is new again

I love Tuesdays.  For years in Brisbane it was my quilting day, either with Schoolhouse Quilters Kenmore or with seven close friends, we eight making up the group Loose Threads.  Of course I miss them so much, but Tuesdays still remain my quilting days here in Sydney.  St Ives Quilters have been most welcoming and this year they celebrate their 30th anniversary.

Yesterday we were asked to bring along quilts created over twenty years ago.  I was pleasantly surprised as members came forward with their quilts.

They had well and truly passed the test of time and could easily have been made this year instead of twenty years ago.

This magnificent quilt took my breath away.  Apologies for the slightly blurred image, but I was carried away.  Renowned quilter Judy Day (r) fell in love with the original at the Victoria & Albert Museum all those years ago and set about creating her own version.  It is entirely hand pieced and hand quilted.  It would look stunning on my bed, but I couldn't convince Judy to part with it.

And that brings me to a lovely story. Quilter Heather Watts heard through her daughter that a young mother with a three year-old child recently had the most horrific fire accident involving a frying pan.  The burns covered much of the front of her body and it was witnessed by her little girl.  She is pregnant and is due to give birth this week.

Heather was so moved by the story that she made this gorgeous quilt, not for the new baby, but for the little three year-old who has been so traumatised by recent events.  

That's why I love quilters and Tuesdays.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Butterflies and Flowers

Today I received the latest images from wonderful photographer Sara of Boutique Baby Photography and I was thrilled to bits with her work.  

What a little cutie - no wonder is top of my model list.

With Easter not far away, this little dress would be ideal for family celebrations.

You can find it here ...

... or here.

Sizes 1 to 6.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Tread Softly

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939

My favourite poem came to mind this weekend, brought about by three events, all involving school teachers.  The last two lines of Mr Yeats's beautiful poem could easily be a student's plea to a teacher.

On Saturday morning we met up with my brother for brunch.  He is a high school teacher in his final year of teaching (but he could be doing a Melba).  He had just returned from a two day excursion which he had organised - the Year 9 History/Visual Arts excursion to our National Capital involving well over 200 boys.  His passion for teaching history is infectious and has not faded over all the years.  I know he will be greatly missed when he does retire .... eventually.

On Sunday the order of nuns who made my school days so happy celebrated their 800th anniversary and no, I was not an original student.  St Clare of Assisi founded the order in March 1212 and it was a joyous occasion yesterday when past students, friends and family gathered to help the nuns celebrate the momentous occasion.  The young nun who inspired me way back in the Fifties was there, now in her late eighties.  I sat next to her along with my classmates, and we grandmothers were for a short time once again teenagers, sitting with our favourite teacher, a strong woman with a delightful sense of humour who helped guide us through those difficult adolescent years.

The third teacher related event was something I recalled a few days after our daughter called excitedly to advise us that she was a finalist in this year's Sulman Prize.  I had completely forgotten that as a young high school student in Queensland she had been so poorly treated by her art teacher that she dropped the subject completely.  This teacher took away all her self-confidence with her sarcasm, scorn and sharp tongue.  

We returned to Sydney when our daughter was entering her last two years at school and during the interview with the school principal Tony happened to mention that Maz had been a promising art student until the her art teacher's appalling treatment all became too much for her to handle.  It was a chance remark which the principal immediately took up and encouraged Maz to consider resuming her art classes, as the school had an excellent reputation with their arts programme.  Thankfully she was persuaded to do so and under the care of the school's art teacher, printmaker Rick Badger, she blossomed.  The rest is history.

Three wonderful teachers, one bad one.  We've all had them.  Thank goodness it's the good ones who remain in our memories.  God bless them. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Things that make me smile

I came across this image which I took in Paris a couple of years ago.  It brought an immediate smile to my face as I remembered how bemused we Fudges were when we came across this creative piece of parking.

How on earth, we wondered, did the driver manage to manoeuvre the car into such a tight space?  Of course being such a tiny vehicle, it was probably simply a matter of picking the thing up and plonking it down between the other two cars.  The owner of the car to the left must have been thrilled to bits when she returned to her vehicle.  I say she because this is the textile area of Paris, every dressmaker's idea of Paradise.  That day my excess baggage increased alarmingly in a very short space of time.  Sigh.

Another smile inducing activity is attending my local quilting group, which happens every Tuesday.  Today Rae (r) showed us her recently completed quilt top which is just beautiful.

My smile is radiant every time I look at this image of the latest Kaffe Fassett fabrics which arrived last week to join the earlier Kaffe stash.  I now have enough fabric to complete The Plan.  The Long Term Plan.

I have every reason to smile.

Monday, 5 March 2012

It's Rabbit Season

Summer has slid seamlessly into Autumn, and why not?  We've already had six months of Autumn disguised as Summer, so we shouldn't notice the difference.

Easter is a few short weeks away so while I'm waiting for a new shipment of fabric, I've started on some Easter Bunny bunting to sell in my Etsy and MadeIt shops.  I don't often get carried away with my own work, but I have to admit to an Oooooo ... too cute! moment.  I'm over it now.  The bunnies stand around 6½" (after all these years, my metric measure knowledge is practically zilch), are double-sided with different fabrics and are interfaced with vilene for sturdiness.

I cut strips of pink and yellow fabric to make the bias binding, which I feel is much prettier than the store-bought variety.

I'm so grateful for this little gadget, a bias tape maker.  It's simply a matter of threading the fabric strip through and then iron it as it comes out.  I have visions of little elves working away furiously inside the gadget, turning the fabric under before it magically comes out the other end.

Hey presto, all done.  Now all I have to do is fold it over and iron again, ready to construct the garland.

Side A
Side B
Now that I have caught the Bunny bug, it's back to the sewing machine to create some more colourful creatures.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Why I love the first Saturday of the month

There's an excellent reason for loving the first Saturday of the month.  The Sydney SCQuilters meet for a day of quilting, gossip and food, all carried out at a local watering hole.  Bliss.

Outside the weather continued along its usual appallingly wet way.  It's a wonder we don't all have barnacles sprouting off us the way we have had to sit through a virtually non-existent summer.  The current flooding in our State is the size of France we were informed last night on the news.

So there was no better way to chase away the wet weather blues than to feast our eyes on this bright and cheerful work in progress.

I love the simplicity of this Japanese inspired quilt.

Of course, our gossip is not idle.  We discover new fabric locations, where and when the next quilt exhibitions will be held, what new trends in quilt and fabric designs are currently taking off - you know, all the essential things that keep the world spinning on its axis.

It's a whole thirty-five days until the next first Saturday.  I guess I'll just have to be patient.

To read more on today's wonderful activities, visit the Sydney SCQuilters' blog here.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Please read this

The face behind Posie Patchwork is a young mother of four, married to a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

Ben Roberts-Smith is our latest Victoria Cross winner who has been subjected to the most appalling jibes by two journalists who should have known better.  I urge you to read Posie's blog post here.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Test of Time

A year ago this gorgeous little California tot modelled a couple of my dresses.  I was so happy to see these latest images from her talented photographer mother, showing that this dress has worn well and appears to have grown along with the model.

Boutique Baby Photography
Flower Girl Halo by Isla's Garden Bowtique
Here are a couple of images from last year, when the dress was brand new.

Time to cue Maurice Chevalier singing Thank Heaven for Little Girls.