Saturday, September 28, 2013

keeping in with tradition...

I first started working with recycled tea bags back in 2002.  My partner drank alot of tea and being an avid collector of all things weird and wonderful I started collecting and drying his tea bags.  Then on an excursion to the Queensland Art Gallery in the final year of my studies (2002) I was all intrigued and inspired after seeing a large quilt hanging on the gallery wall, somehow the two came together starting with Quilt seen in my 2010 Expressions of Love Exhibition.

Expressions of Love explores the connection between mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, an unbroken chain of wisdom and knowledge shared across the generations.  It looks at how that sharing was celebrated with a cup of tea and how the generations before us wouldn't discard anything that would find a life in new ways. Working with the recycled tea bags, utilising the skills that have been passed down to me, I was constantly reminded just how fragile the past is and how important it is to preserve these wisdoms for the future.

After the success of spinning the tea bags with the ladies down at the spinners and weavers group I set myself a task, to sew, spin and knit one thousand tea bags.   Keeping within the traditional use of the spinning wheel, spinning wool = knitting, crocheting etc., I decided to knit the one thousand tea bags using 20mm size knitting needles (after sewing them first on the treadle). 

Here's a sneak peak of the results, the tea bags have knitted up deliciously and I can't wait to see the piece hanging on the gallery wall.

From this...

To this...

2-3 hour sessions of sewing on the treadle yielded 20-25mtr lengths and only one small ball -inbetween the size of a squash ball and tennis ball.  In the beginning I began to sew and spin two to three balls at a time before knitting, after the first few hundred metres I needed to break this cycle for sake of my posture, neck and back niggles, and sew, spin and knit one ball at a time.
50 stitches were cast on...

Knitting the garter stitch...

And here's a little teaser of the finished piece...

Even though the knitted piece looks relatively small in this image, the overall piece is reasonably large when stretched out, due to open knit of the garter stitch with the 20mm size knitting needles.

Friday, September 20, 2013

spinning tea bags!

A few months ago and by accident I stumbled upon my local spinners and weavers group, thinking I was going to my yoga class I realised I'd turned up on the wrong day when I saw spinning wheels in the hall instead of yoga mats!  It was actually one of those happy accidents - divine alignment, for some time I had entertained the idea of spinning with tea bags and of course after seeing the spinning wheels in the hall made me even more determined to give it a go.  I received a warm welcome when I eventually went back to introduced myself and to chat about my ideas.  It was suggested to bring some tea bags in the following week - armed with sewn tea bags the following week I was given my very first spinning lesson.  All inspired and eager I purchased my own spinning wheel from one of the ladies in the group took it home and started spinning! 

It's certainly a slow process, each tea bag is emptied, cut into four strips and sewn on my treadle sewing machine into one long strip - one tea bag yields half a metre (50cm)!

Preparing tea bags for spinning...

Spinning action, it takes hours to sew the tea bags and minutes to spin them.

All spun on the spools, these two spools would approximate to 100mtrs in length.

A tiny ball from one spool.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

all wrapped up and onto the next thing...

My blog title may suggest I am not taking enough time to reflect on my recent activities, quite the contrary I feel it's important to take time and reflect, to take stock of recent achievements and at the same time remaining mindful and grounded.  It is important to stop an assess and feel good about one's achievements, you learn and grow from them, a confidence I believe is something to be nurtured!

To wrap up my solo show on the last day I have to say was a blast!  Bump-out and two creative hands-on workshops for the FOGlets (Friends Of the Gallery little ones). The first class was for the smallest of the smalls, where, introduced by Sandra Ross (Education and Public Programs Officer) eighteen eager little FOGlets got to meet and greet the artist, me and my artworks then we proceeded off to the workshop and made clay houses and creations (second picture below).    The second workshop (to which I apologise I have no images) was for the older FOGlets where I set the task to try and create structures/sculptures without the use of masking tape, using only string and wooden skewers with the recycled card, plastic coreflute, plastic, canvas and the like.

Sandra and the gallery staff offer the most wonderful 'Art' experience for the children with each exhibition on display, to which I found a very rich and rewarding experience to be a part of and was wonderful to see the children embracing it as well.  Picture below, talking about my work, and thanks to Julie Prat (Gallery Administration) for this awesome photograph.

Two little participants, Makayla & Talia stayed back to help tidy up.

And in the midst of it all (the Gympie show) working away on my next solo show....  Here's an awesome bunch of ladies that came into Rosebed St Gallery back in August to help me process all the thousands of teabags that have been coming in thick and fast for Expressions of Love II.

Pictured, front left; Susie, Carol, Robin, Me, and Lindy. From front right; Diane, Karuna, _, Tony and Vivienne - and a huge big thanks to Lindsay Ham for also coming and taking this photograph for me.

"Many hands make light work!"