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

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Wishing all the readers of my blog a wonderful, peaceful Christmas with your loved ones and hopefully 2012 will be a happy one for all of us.
Let us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

I will be taking some time off enjoying the Festive Season with my family, but will be back with another part of my story middle January 2012. 

If you are away from home, travel safely and enjoy the holidays.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Full circle...

We left Port Elizabeth in 1988 and arrived back in 1996.   Settling down was relatively easy as we still had very dear friends here.    I did not even try to make a quilt for the National Quilt Festival in July 1996 which was held in Durban or apply to teach a workshop as my life was in limbo, waiting to move back to Port Elizabeth.   To add to this, my dearest mom suffered a massive stroke 6 weeks after we arrived back in Port Elizabeth........

But life went on and I immediately joined the Dias Quilters' Guild.   I brought finished wallhangings back from Harrismith and found an outlet here in Port Elizabeth at Wezandla Crafts.    I made many small beaded wallhangings which was sold to overseas tourists - it kept me very busy.  

During the July school holidays, the kids and I visited my parents in Knysna and I came home with another invitation for an exhibition!   Bitou Crafts in Knysna invited me to exhibit quilts in their shop during the Nederburg Knysna Arts Festival in September 1996 - I was elated!   I was beginning to feel much less freaked out when an opportunity for an exhibition came my way, also new design ideas came much easier.    I noticed another development in my geometric work - I was moving away from the very bold designs and refining the overall "look" of the quilts.   

I played with different shades of a colour and did designs in a colourwash format, cutting took forever as every little piece was cut very precisely.    As I was using fusible web to assemble the designs, I really had to concentrate very hard as it was so easy to get lost....

Some of the pieces which I made for the 1996 Nederburg Knysna Arts Festival....
96-11 Colourwash style - Sold in Knysna
I also played with a row by row design, clearly moving back to traditional quilt design styles from which I deviated before.....

96-08 Row by Row Design - Sold

It was as if I was really now merging the traditional Ndebele geometric mural designs with quilt design.   I designed a block pattern which I repeated and graded the colours in shades of browns.   

96-10 Block Design - Sold

As I explained earlier, while I work on a project, my mind is always working on a next project.....    I got the idea to make a quilt in two panels, a diptych!   I had to work very accurately as the borders would tie the two panels together and it had to be exactly the same size as a trained eye would immediately observe if the alignment was out.    I was very excited about this piece and was very distraught when two friends visiting from Switzerland bought the piece and each took one panel home...!  

96-09 Diptych - Sold (Switzerland)
I never thought that these photo's would be in public domain and only took it for my records.   My daughter Elizabeth holding the panels was not part of the design!  
Before we left Harrismith, I played with a mirror-image design and included the quilt in the Nederburg Knysna Arts Festival exhibition.   
96-02 Mirror image design - Sold

I made some waistcoats as part of the exhibition which the Americans loved buying .....


1996 was a wonderful and very productive year for me although it was also very traumatic with my mom severly affected after a stroke and our moving to Port Elizabeth.   I made 29 wallhangings and waistcoats, selling most of it.   I attributed this to the change of environment.    As I have lived close to the coast most of my life, the colours of the sea, clear sky and lots of green vegetation make me feel alive and at home.   The winters in the interior were too severe and brown for me and I battled to be creative as nature around me looked barren and dead, making me feel depressed.     I realized I constantly needed to see lots of green around me as I experience life very visually............

Part of the 1996 batch was quite a big beaded wallhanging which I entered in the First National Bank Vita Craft Now 1997 competition which was juried - I was blown away when my quilt was selected to be part of the exhibition.

96-19 Made for FNB Vita Craft Now 1997 Exhibition - Sold to an art gallery in Johannesburg

Another highlight for me in 1996 was when the Dias Quilters' Guild announced that they would host the 1998 National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth and they needed volunteers to serve on the Festival Committee.....   I offered my services as I needed new friends......!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Eduard Wium - Influence of a Wonderful Artist

We arrived in Harrismith at the end of September 1994.........!    Willem bought an older house which had an extra bedroom for me to use as a workroom, but the house was in a terrible state.     I really battled to settle down in a routine as the  house needed major renovations and I would be in charge of it all!

My fabric, books and machine was constantly full of dust and I was challenged with workers in the house every day - I was used to having the mornings to myself while the kids were at school.    We were in Harrismith for 5 1/2 months when Willem told us we were moving again, this time back to Port Elizabeth....!   The renovations was just completed and I had to stay behind to sell the house....

I felt very isolated as there was no Quilters' Guild or group in Harrismith which I could join.   I met Louise Rheeder who lived in Senekal but it was too far for regular visits.   I started teaching a bit at home, also taught a few workshops in Puthaditjaba and Bethlehem.   I was soon invited to put up a display of all my quilts in the public library which led to another invitation - a joint art exhibition in 1995 with two well known artists of the Eastern Free State, Eduard Wium and Petro Swanepoel.     Eduard was near his 80's, almost bent over double from severe arthritis, but he still managed to paint every day.  Petro was one of  his students in her younger days.   

As I did not have much time to prepare for this exhibition, I decided to make smaller quilts.   I chose cosmos and birds as themes, as well as some geometric pieces.      I sold the cosmos quilt to Dutch people who were in South Africa on holiday, the other quilts were sold in Port Elizabeth, mostly to overseas visitors.

95-03 Mahem, Crested Crane.  Sold - Canada
95-04 Guinea Fowls - Sold to a restaurant in Geneva

95-08 Beaded.   Sold in SA
95-06 Cosmos.    Sold - Holland

We mounted and minded the exhibition ourselves and I spent very special times with Eduard who sat painting in the exhibition hall, happy to chat and share with the public.   What a priviledge!    He painted the most amazing landscapes in oil and I commissioned him to paint me one of the famous Platberg in Harrismith as a reminder of a special mentor!    It was amazing to observe a master - he taught me to paint skies and  I was fascinated to see how he painted trees, he just did it so effortlessly and kept on explaining as he was going along...   He showed me how to mix colours etc and encouraged me to use painting as another dimension in my quilts.   I will be forever grateful for his guidance as he somehow understood my need to explore and he encouraged me to push my boundaries.   He would often visit me after our exhibition for lunch and a special chat about art and my quilts as he was genuinely interested in textile art.   Observing Eduard paint, I realized how time consuming quilting was, especially pictorial quilts where so much time is spent with cutting and preparation before one can actually stitch.     

I lived in Harrismith for 18 months, the highlight of my stay was visits to various parts of the Drakensberg and meeting Eduard Wium.  I sold geometric beaded quilts at a craft shop in Harrismith which overseas tourists loved buying.   It also kept me busy while waiting to sell the house....

At the end of March 1996 we left Harrismith to start a new life in Port Elizabeth.....