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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Looking Forward

Happy belated Christmas to all from A Home For Tandy! I hope the season brought much joy, togetherness and some satisfying creative activity that often follows the urge to bake, deck the halls and make the season bright! It's usually at this time, between Christmas and New Year that rather than reflecting on the past twelve months, I get an excited, restless feeling about the year ahead.

I'll be starting a new day job early in the year. It will involve learning new skills, working longer hours in a completely new location and a different commute everyday. My main concern with all that is "how will I manage my textile work schedule around my new lifestyle?" It will all remain to be seen, however I can't stop my mind thinking forward to possible solutions... Perhaps I could do research and answer emails on the train? Perhaps I might design a range of products that is portable enough to work on the train? Maybe a few days a week I'll travel directly to the studio rather than come home only to muster the energy to venture out again? Maybe I should try to get to bed before midnight so I won't be too exhausted by the time I get to the studio? The ideas keep coming....I'll post about the actual solutions as they manifest...

In the meantime, some exciting projects are already in the pipeline for the coming month!

I have three textile artworks hanging in the Brunswick Street Gallery 40x40 exhibition which runs until 14 January. Here's one of them...

And I'll be exhibiting my wares at RAW: Melbourne on 31 January. This is an exciting one night event showcasing the work of 40 artists across different disciplines. Check out their website of more info...

Best wishes to you all for an inspired and creative 2014!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


The day I'd dreamed of for many months finally arrived and surrounded by an intimate gathering of family, friends and admirers in my little suburban studio we declared A Home For Tandy open for business! Reflecting on the evening, I was surprised to realise that it went precisely as I had visualised. Often a much anticipated event will look and feel different in reality but this was almost identical to my mental images, from the product displays to the weather, the number of guests and the conversations I had with them... Perhaps it is testament to the dreaming and detailed planning I had done in the lead up! So with the help of a few amazing people, A Home For Tandy was successfully launched! The images below were taken by the very talented Pete Bell.

A large part of what I wanted to achieve in time for the launch was my online presence and I'm now "out there" on the following sites:

Feel free to check them out and "Share" and if you have any comments, feedback or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you!

So that goal was ticked off at the end of a very busy year and with holidays and Christmas approaching it would be easy to rest on my laurels and forget it all until the new year. However I'm determined to keep up the momentum. My new-found business head knows that consistency is the key to running a successful business and even if I do just one thing very day, no matter how small, I'm still moving it forward. So I'm resolved to maintain focus over the holidays. Luckily I have special orders to fulfil before Christmas so there is a deadline to work to and I'll be back in the studio tomorrow dyeing some more of my increasingly popular silk scarves.....

The studio entrance 

Baby quilts

Our name-sake story book on display

New swing tags out for the first time

Heart-felt thankyous
Me and my lovely daughter/studio assistant

The scarves sold like hot cakes!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Preparing To Launch

Be it a birthday, anniversary, graduation or any other mile-stone or achievement, I've always been a fan of marking the occasion in some way. So of course I'll be celebrating when "A Home For Tandy" is finally set up and ready for business! The idea to throw a launch party came to me as soon as I walked into my studio and I visualised the space filled with champagne sipping friends and family admiring my artistically displayed work on a balmy summer evening under a canopy of fairy lights (well, I have a very vivid imagination!) And locking in the date I realised how powerful that simple act was. Now I had a non-negotiable deadline for having a number of tasks completed that would culminate in having some product made and an online presence from which to sell it. Then I could work backwards from that date to plan what needed to be done and in what order. Had I not set that launch date and just chipped away at things when I felt I "had the time",  the project might have taken years! (Much like my first quilt which I worked on for seven years and only finished
when I had the deadline of a trip away and I decided it should go with me...)

Now the launch is only 10 days away, and just when I felt things were on track and under control, just today I've written two pages of lists; thing to do, things to source, things to discuss, things to bring to the studio and a plan for the display! I guess this is what it's like to run a business; overwhelming at times but ultimately, the exciting realisation of one's creative dream...

Next post - photos of the momentous occasion!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Keeping It Up!

Leonard Bernstein said

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

This quote has resonated with me since I set myself the challenging, yet not impossible dead-line to launch a business (that means setting up a studio, make lots of stuff, photograph it, get a logo design, business cards, swing tags, a live website etc etc...) in three months. I'm no stranger to the concept of time management having chipped away through six years of study while working full time, but it's a different thing being totally self motivated! The end goal is so much bigger and has a lot more riding on it than any uni assignment. This particular end goal will be an indicator of my potential to one day be living my dream as a full-time textile designer. Motivation indeed. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I have moved my work into a studio and that in itself is motivation. There's no point having a studio if I don't go and work there...

Reflecting on my full week in the studio, I am relieved to discover that although the work can be physically exhausting and frustrating at times, I did not tire of it. The different processes vary the days and I loved being mostly in my own company, listening to music, lost in thought. I enjoyed the methodical planning of what to do in which order and also the challenge of streamlining the processes to be more time efficient. It was satisfying to pull creativity and organisation together in this intense period of productivity. There's no doubt in my mind I could happily do this forever!

Returning to my day job, on the other hand, has proven to be the challenge. Yes, I know what I said in the last sentence of the first paragraph, but boy, sometimes I just don't feel like it! After a day at work, grocery shopping on the way home, attending to family and real life etc it would be easy to just have a night off. But it's at this point when I remember Mr Bernstein and that I do want to achieve great things (well great for me anyway), I do have a plan and I also have "not quite enough time."
The only way is to just keep it up!

Here are some images of my second batch of scarfs....

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Home For Tandy has a new home!

Ok this is getting serious now.... No longer can I simply diddle around with my work on weekends and occasional weeknights when I feel like it. Now I have moved into a real life artist studio which I have invested time and money in and now I'm expected to go there and use it! I have surprised myself with feelings of trepidation because this is something I've dreamt of for years. But it is a big step, and it means this thing is for real.
And to make myself feel like a real life artisan in my real life studio, I've done a crazy thing and taken a week off work to dedicate to my practice. This exercise will hopefully achieve a few things:
a) To amass some finished product towards my end of year goal
b) Kick start a routine of regular sessions after I return to my day job
c) Test how productive I can be in the right environment with the right equipment and without distractions, and
d) Test whether I actually like doing this work all day for six consecutive days

All will be revealed in the next post! In the meantime, here are a few images of day one......
Dyeing area

Plant material collected for day-one dye lots
Experiments with prunis leaves

My personal handyman building the largest and heaviest craft table ever!
The table needs to large to accommodate queen size fabric !

It's Time To Go....

I'm fed up and I'm moving out! Well not me, just my work. I'm fed up with taking over the house from the study through the dining room and often the kitchen to get my work done. Fed up with the lack of space, the right size table and having to constantly set up and pack up when the dining table actually needs to be used for dining (and to avoid the inevitable encounters with cats). And I'm fed up with my apparent inability to work without getting distracted by normal household stuff such as washing that needs putting out, the TV which is on right in front of my work space (read dining table) and my family up for a chat or the offer of a coffee break. 

So the time had come to find an alternative workspace. After many years of pining over art magazines and Pinterest images of artist studios, dreaming of having a space of my own, I excitedly began looking for a suitable (and affordable) space. However because there are several processes to my work, and each requires a specific environment (dyeing is wet and messy whereas  quilting needs a large clean dry table), many of the spaces advertised were just not quite right.

This is where the power of visualisation kicked in! If I'd ever doubted that power, here's proof that it exists. Without consciously "putting it out to the universe" I had visualised the space I needed with all the features and equipment including natural light and good ventilation. In fact months ago, I had drawn it in my notebook. And of course I didn't want to pay much for it. Too much to ask?
Well, the short story is that I've secured a space that, with a few additions and adjustments, is perfect for me (and my budget). So this week I packed everything up from various locations around the house and moved into my new studio. It's perfect! Photos to follow......

The piano makes a good craft storage shelf when working at the dining table...

The kitchen, closed for business.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Day To Dye For

 Today's activity was a toss-up between quilt stitching and dyeing but being a gorgeous spring day, the latter won. Even though the main action is around my kitchen stove, there's a lot that's outdoorsy about dyeing; swanning about the garden picking plant material, wrapping the bundles on the veranda table, rinsing and hanging the results on the line...and today I just couldn't resist!
I had some pre-hemmed habutai silk scarfs ready to go for months and I took the opportunity to use up some small quantities of dye left over from previous sessions. The scarfs wilt down to almost nothing and so can be dyed in just a cupful or so (I try to waste nothing!) Each scarf required over dyeing, some went in and out of the bath three or four times before the desired effect was reached. Patience and persistence paid off!

I then took advantage of the last rays of the late afternoon to capture some images.....

This one is my favourite 

The wrapping string creates interesting effects.

These three were first dyed in turmeric.

All together now!

Friday, 30 August 2013

A Change In Direction

The new design is sewn together like a cushion cover and needs no edge binding.

Detail of the eco print. Looks a bit like wheat!

The finished product in test photo shoot!

There is a lot to be said for taking time with design development. I learned this at college, but now that I'm working on my own it takes all my discipline not to simply think of an idea and do it! I had done an amount of sampling with quilt designs and made decisions on materials, techniques and finishes etc. I then launched into what I hoped would be the beginnings of an inventory of finished quilts.
It wasn't until three were completed that I realised my innovative idea of finishing them by folding the edges inward and blanket stitching through the layers was not viable. They looked fabulous before washing, but that binding just didn't stand up to the machine. (It's part of my self imposed design brief that the quilts should be suitable for every day use and hardy enough to withstand machine washing, secured in a pillow case or other fabric bag) 
So back to the drawing board I went and came up with a design that looks more professional and will actually be quicker to make in the long run. A few other tweaks happened along the way (namely the coloured wool stitching) giving the new design quite a different look to the earlier versions. I'll post images of those later.
The experience hammers home to me the importance of design development, how it can't be rushed, and to go with the flow when the design takes a new direction.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Quilted Scarf

Here are some images of a recent project. The National Wool Museum in Geelong, Victoria is currently holding its annual Scarf Festival, and I have entered for the first time this year with a quilted silk scarf hand dyed using natural dye processes. I love that I can use plant material and other bits and pieces found around my home, and  perform my experiments in my very own kitchen without fear of poisoning my family with toxic fumes. I also love that although certain plants will generally produce  particular colours, the results are never 100% predictable so there's always an element of surprise when finally unwrapping the bundles!

My scarf will be on display at the Scarf Festival at the National Wool Museum until 25 August 2013.

Dye bath of loquat leaves.

Print materials collected from my garden.

Print materials are arranged on the silk fabric...

... then tightly wrapped around my trusty rusty funnel. The rusted metal reacts with the fabric to create interesting effects.

The bundle is added to the dye bath along with the scarf back. 

Back and front pieces drying on the line.

Bamboo batting was sandwiched between the layers.

Silk yarn was used to stitch the layers into a quilt.

The finished scarf!