Teaching Philosophy

I feel successful when I teach people:

- to see what they look at!

- that it is ok to be different!

- to open a whole new world of creativity for them....

- that there is a solution for every problem (mostly with a quick-unpick!)

- that it is a joy to be creative......

The Creative Mind Plays with the Object it Loves -
Carl Jung

Monday, 28 March 2016


At the moment, I don't have time to quilt which is sad...  I'm very involved in organizing the 2017 South African National Quilt Festival which will be hosted by my home guild, the Dias Quilters' Guild in Port Elizabeth.   Please visit the official festival Facebook page 2017 South African National Quilt Festival, Port Elizabeth and "like" the page...   You can also visit the festival website at http://festival.quiltsouthafrica.co.za for more news.   It will be wonderful to welcome International quilters at Siyadala - We Create NQF 3 - 8 July 2017.

I made three quilts for the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition in 2015 and the last one I want to share with you, is Spinel.   I seldom work in red, but somehow I started buying shades of red and magenta batik fabrics which works perfectly with silk fabric.   I  had a rough sketch which I wanted to use and decided to use the red for the centre panel with purples on the sides.   I love working with round shapes as the design scope is endless.    The amazing thing is that with some quilts, everything just falls into place very easily.

Spinel consists of 5 panels, placed on a discharged background of blueish grey fabric which toned in very well with the blueish purples which I selected.   To create contrast, I prepared two panels with a mixture of silk, Bali and batik strips placed horizontally.    The stitching down of the strips was functional and I combined it with couching of cotton and silk yarns to create additional texture with the raw edges of the strips.

Rings in various sizes in bright oranges, magentas and pinks were cut for the centre panel using Bali cottons and silks.   These were placed on the centre panel and somehow, it looked great to have some of there spill over the edge of the panel.  Somehow the colouring looked a bit dead on the background...  The rings were already fused and stitched to the background when I promptly slashed some strips out of the background.    I used a darker purple behind it to take away the flatness of the purple, it immediately looked more interesting.  I then decided it lacked texture and added some hand embroidery around the insides of the rings which were filled with another colour.  This seemed to do the trick.  

Spinel 2015 - Centre Panel
Instead of using a ring motif, I decided to use rounds in two sizes for the two outside panels.  These had to be smaller than the rings of the centre panel to force it into a secondary place on the quilt.   The idea was to create variety with many different fabrics for the rounds.   The next step was to prepare backgrounds for these side panels - I decided against a solid piece of fabric as it would look too flat, I needed to avoid the problem I had with the centre panel.  I decided to cut blocks in the colour range I needed and fused it onto the background which immediately did the trick, the blocks on the one panel smaller than the other panel.    I used bigger rounds on the bigger blocks to create interest and variety.   The rounds were positioned and fused onto the background, the last panel was prepared in the same way and decorated with smaller rounds.   The rounds were stitched to the background to secure it. 

Side panels of Spinel.   The smaller rounds almost have the effect of bubbles...!

The next step was to stitch these panels to the background fabric and prepare the borders...   I chose all the colours used in the panels to prepare the borders, carefully placing colours in specific positions to complement the centre section.  Strips were prepared for the top and bottom borders similar to the two strippy panels on the quilt to complement it.   It worked well and I also added some couching to it.   A mixture of the strips and round motifs were used for the side panels to echo the rounds in the borders.

Echo quilting was used for the centre panel with pebbles quilted on the side panels between the round shapes.   Very simple quilting was done on the background of the quilt.  Cords were made using cotton yarn in various colours used in the quilt to seal the edge of the quilt.  I really loved working with these rich jewel colours which I normally don't use.    Spinel is indeed a gemstone found in this incredibel colour range...

Spinel 2015


Monday, 28 September 2015


I'm currently doing lots of administrative work regarding quilting and it actually makes one think about how fellow quilters regard creativity.    Some are ardent cyber surfers to keep informed of the latest trends, others prefer books and some find their own way...  A comment which I picked up during the week was of elements used in a specific quilt which was typical of quilts made by another well known quilt artist...  My question is where do we find inspiration?  I am always intrigued by the thought processes of quilt artists, some need to rationalize each and every thought and process of a piece, others just work intuitively without even thinking where they are going.  

I must admit, I don't really like to surf the net and I also don't study the work of others purely because I want my work to reflect my own journey without being influenced by the work of others.  It is the process with which I feel comfortable with...   I don't talk much during the day, but I'm constantly thinking about creative things.  Sometimes a thought will cross my mind, I will maybe make a note or a rough sketch of it, other times I will think of colour combinations and that will be the start of a piece.   I can also visualize ideas and concepts which is a great help.

We all have our favourite colours, mine is seagreen.   Seeing it is like recognizing something deep within my soul...   It has such a soothing effect on me, I suppose that is why I chose the colour for the walls of my studio.

While I worked on the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition earlier this year, I made a rough sketch for a piece and decided that I would build the piece around some chamois that was given to me by a student.  The rough edges reminded me of dirty foam left on the beach after rough seas.    As the chamois would represent the foam and the sandy beach, I decided to add greens and blues to the palette to create this abstract piece of my memories of the Knysna lagune where I grew up.

This quilt consists of four panels stitched together at the top!  The bottom layer in neutral shades forms the backdrop and was machine quilted.   The second panel is pieced and embellished with couching, hand embroidery and beaded.  This panel was not quilted in the traditional way with batting, but was hand stitched onto commercial felt in a similar colour as the backdrop panel.  A beaded fringe was added to balance the textured top section.    The blue and green tiles on the third panel were appliqued using the raw edge applique technique and the bottom and side edges were sealed with cords.   Additional creative stitching was added to each tile to create texture.  The textured panel at the top was made of chamois, silk, burnt fabric, needle punching, beading and hand embroidery and lies loosely over the third panel.  .

Tranquility 2015
Standing at the lookout point at the top of the Knysna Heads while looking down at the sea going in and out of the lagoon…  My most favourite spot on earth, it grounds me, strips me to my inner core and brings peace within my soul…   The mixture of the green and blue of the water combined with the colour of the sandy beach gives a deep sense of satisfaction, of home and stirs the creative juices deep within…   I completely relate to the following quote:

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness - 
Thomas Jefferson 

Tranquility - Close up detail of the quote by Thomas Jefferson

Tranquility - Close up detail of top section.

I loved the process of making this quilt...   Unfortunately a photograph never does justice to textile art...

Thursday, 16 July 2015


I enjoyed a fabulous holiday and came home feeling rested, blessed and relaxed, what a precious feeling!  

The Creative Energy 2015 National Quilt Festival is now part of our South African quilting history.   It really was an enjoyable and friendly festival, just the way we love our festivals.  Congratulations to Twigg Hartwig and her very capable committee.   The baton was passed onto the Dias Quilters' Guild for the Siyadala - We Create 2017 National Quilt Festival to be held here in Port Elizabeth with yours truly sitting in the hot seat.

While I was working on designs for the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition earlier in the year, I saved one design as my quilt entry for the festival!   It was the fourth piece which I made this year.   I kept it for last as it was a mandala and I knew exactly where I wanted to go with it...   I was also running out of steam/time and thought that as the process was familiar, it would help me over the finishing line.

As the design was already drawn full size, it was a relatively easy start.   I chose jewel colours for this quilt and before I knew where I was, the table was covered with batiks, silks, linen, felt, papers, applique paper, yarns, threads, pencils, the usual big mess!   And don't forget the empty coffee mug... The amazing thing is that I can always find everything under all the clutter!

Creative mess

I loved working on this quilt, maybe because of the colour palette.   The design is in a few layers.   I firstly covered the base cloth with the first layer, adding detail in the second layer and then added a third 3-D layer.   I used a variety of silks for these accents which gave it a rich glow.   Rolled fabric as well as wooden beads in a variety of colours were used to balance the raised 3-D surface elements. All the 3-D motifs were backed onto felt which provided an interesting dimension.  Raw edge applique technique was used throughout and couching a variety of yarns sealed certain edges which added another textured element.   3-D elements were also made with a soldering iron.   The quilt was machine quilted.

Some close-up detail of 3-D elements and couching.

Centre section

The initial choice of colours were cerise/magenta, jade/seagreen, blues and purples.  As the cutting progressed, I realized it needed a zinger to pop the colours!   I tried silks in lime green and watermelon pink which seemed to do the trick as it added the sparkle which was missing.   I repeated the lime colour by stitching additional detail into the border section.

Infinity 2015

Looking at this quilt makes me happy!    I love the simetry, texture and rich colours.  It won a Highly Commended award in the Masters Freestyle Category at the recent 2015 National Quilt Festival as well as a coveted Best Use of Colour.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


I have previously mentioned the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition which I organized earlier this year.  It was a resounding success and all the work can be viewed on the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition facebook page. 

En-twine-D 2015

The first piece which I made for this exhibition was En-twine-D.  I once again used my sketch book to make various rough sketches and rather liked this one...

Rough Sketch of En-twine-D 2015

I prepared a background of 3cm x 3cm fused squares using a variety of silks and cottons in earthy shades.  Somehow these colours have such a soothing effect on me, maybe because of my deep connection with the earth.   I couched course string to seal the raw edges of the blocks which doubled up as the construction method .   It gave a lovely natural and textured look which I wanted for this piece.

The second aspect of this piece, was planning and making the "pelmet" at the top.   I wrapped discharged black fabric around three dowels.   The next step was to plan the spacing between the dowels.   Fabric beads were made and inserted as spacers between the dowels.  Somehow this construction had to be sewn down onto fabric which in the end was not too difficult!   The spaces on the fabric looked rather empty, so small pieces of fabric was stitched down into the spaces and embellished with natural beads, it provided the necessary interest and also gave a raised surface effect which worked well.

Pelmet section of En-twine-D 2015
The original idea was to make hanging elements which would hang from this pelmet section.  I changed the original idea of round shapes to a combination of half rounds and rounds.   It looked much more interesting and provided an easier way of attaching the top half round to the pelmet section.   The amazing thing was that after attaching the top section of the hanging panel to the pelmet, it immediately changed the quilt into two layers.    I was really pleased that the surface height of the pelmet section and the half round was similar!   At this stage I decided to add more colours and chose purples, cerise and lime greens in various shades.      I used a similar but slightly thinner string to couch around the edges of the different sections of the background.   Fabric beads and 3-D silk leaves were made to embellish the panel.   The silks added a lovely sheen.

Top section of hanging panel

Two more round and another half round completes the hanging panel strung together with a combination of fabric, wooden and metal beads.   As wrapped dowels were used in the pelmet section, I thought it best to repeat it at the bottom with another half round shape hanging from it.

Bottom section of hanging panel

When one works against the clock, every minute counts.  In South Africa we experience electricity supply problems at the moment which results in regular load shedding periods...   With the aid of a LED lamp, the work could proceed....
Assembling the hanging panel during electricity load shedding!

It was much easier naming my children or dogs than my quilts!   I don't know why I find it so difficult, but it really is...   With this piece I thought of my inner self, my thought processes, work ethic,the design etc.   Although I'm mostly a creative free spirit, the need also arises for structure, to be in control of the process…   Designing on paper using geometry tools satisfies this need.  After all this thinking and soul searching, I still could not title this piece....!   The piece was pinned to my design wall for a few weeks and while looking at it intently again, it struck me that string was actually used in almost every aspect of this quilt.   It was used to seal the raw edges around the squares of the background, to string the fabric beads on the pelmet while holding it all in place, to seal the raw edges around the round and half round shapes of the hanging panel and also to string all the beads of the hanging panel.   The outer edge of the quilt was also sealed with string....     Entwined came to my mind and using creative license, it became En-twine-D!