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, 12 February 2012


We organized a fashion show of the P E Technicon (now part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) fashion design students for my last meeting as Chairlady in 2000!   It was a blast and a very special way to end a wonderful time on the Dias Quilters' Guild Committee.    Observing the carefree way of the students made me slightly envious - they made creativity look so easy.....  We were bowled over by the exhuberance of youth with their high voltage energy - it was so refreshing to be exposed to their artistic flair and obvious passion for design.    I think quite a few of us felt very much stuck in our creative moulds that day and admired the talented students who so freely showcased their creations, not caring to be different and pushing boundaries in the process.     I just loved the buzz backstage, it was quite electric.  

During this time, I was always painting little pieces of fabric to give away as presents.    A friend felt that I should paint fabric to sell as it looked completely different to other fabrics available...    I gave it some thought and decided to take the plunge and Brush Rags handpainted fabrics was born in 2001......    Initially I painted on calico but eventually I was not happy with the quality of the cloth anymore and I switched to 100% percale cotton.    It is a labour intensive process as the fabric gets washed and cut into fat quarters before painting, then gently washed by hand to get rid of all loose bits of paint and salt.    Each piece of fabric is ironed 3 times - ironing is very important with fabric paint as it sets the paint.    As I work alone, quality control is part of the entire process and rejects land in my scrap bag.  Wet painted pieces must lie flat to dry and cannot be moved while wet as it smudges easily - so it is easier to only paint fat quarters.     I love painting fabric, but I chose to keep a balance between quilting and painting as I feel I am a quilter and quilt teacher first and secondly I make fabric.....     Pied Piper, the local quilt shop in Port Elizabeth kindly sells my fabric at the National Quilt Festivals, otherwise I sell at the monthly Dias Quilters's Guild meetings and from home.
Samples of brush rags handpainted fabric
As often in the past, a telephone call brought a new opportunity....     I was asked by the Dutch Reformed Church in Summerstrand, PE to oversee the making of costumes for a show of Rut(h).   A shoestring budget was allocated for the show, a few volunteers to help me sew and some fabric donations.....!   Some of the fabric donations were old curtaining and sheets, just a few threads away from being threadbare....!   As it was a Biblical theme, the costumes had to fit the era, but I decided to give it a slight South African flavour....   I made the costumes for the two lead actors, Ruth and Boaz.   Ruth's costume had some appliqued detail around the neckline, sash and headgear.   Boaz had a cloak with lots of detail on the back ........    I made little pouches for the male cast members for the battery packs of the microphones to wear like a belt which looked like a leather pouch worn many years ago...   The ladies had a contraption which they wore on their backs hidden underneath their dresses....
Boaz - detail from back of cloak

Being involved in something completely different to what I normally do, was great fun.    The cast members were great and we used rehearsals for fitting sessions.    We made loose fitting tunic style dresses for the female cast with matching sashes.    For the male cast, we made a very easy kaftan style tunic with a sash to give it some shape.   For another scene, we made loose fitting pants, almost fitting like nappies.    We were quite hysterical when the guys fitted the pants the first time - but somehow it looked the part.    We used the linings of the old curtains and old sheets for the pants....    I decided to do duty backstage during the 3 shows should there be any mishaps with the costumes - something made me take my old little Bernina 807 and some sewing equipment, just in case.....     During one scene of the the play, the younger men was involved in a fight and had a wonderful time on stage, but the threadbare pants could not take the punch....   I ended up in the dressing room of the guys, sitting on my butt fixing the torn pants with magic applique and scraps with the guys changing around me telling all sorts of jokes.    The show had to go on and there was no other place close to a plugpoint for me to sit and sew....   The oldest cast member, a retired Reverend of the same congregation kept order and took care of me.   

I was fortunate to be in the audience at the final show, I was immensely proud to be part of such a wonderful production which really added value to my life.....     It was also a thrill to see my name  printed on the programme.....

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