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 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! 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition

Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition is currently on show at the Theresa Hardman Art and Design Studio in Port Elizabeth.   29 exhibits created by eleven fibre artists living and working in the Eastern Cape Province, are on show.   We believe this is the first fibre art exhibition in Port Elizabeth and well worth a visit, whether you can do so personally or on the Facebook page.

Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition 
Theresa Hardman Art and Design Studio, 59 Main Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
17 March - 17 April 2015
The image above was taken at the end of the opening night and shows a few of the exhibits. Personally I have three new pieces on this exhibition which I will share in due course.

Please visit the Diversity Fibre Art Exhibition page on Facebook and "like" the page.     Click on "photo's" to view images of all the exhibits.  All work is for sale.

It will be great to receive feedback.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Playing with Mandalas

Creatively I've had a very busy year so far and I will soon spill the beans...

I started playing with Mandalas last year and decided to make two cushions for our living room which can also be used as teaching samples.   I'm scheduled to teach another Design a Mandala workshop in May in Port Elizabeth and really need samples.

I love the pencil and paper aspect of mandalas, somehow I find it comforting to see how a design develops on paper before I actually start cutting and stitching.  Maybe it is a control thing as I can navigate balance, scale and proportions better...!

I made the two cushions to lie on the seats of two cane chairs to add some colour in the room.   As the rest of the furniture is upholstered in beige, it screamed for colour, so I used the colours in the floral curtains as my palette.

Untitled Mandala Cushion #1 - 2015

I taught a Design a Mandala workshop at the 2014 Dias Quilters's Guild Spring Show and while the students were merrily busy designing, I got this overwhelming urge to join in the fun and started this design.   As I was so busy with other obligations, it was put on the back burner for later...!   The interesting thing was that I used the size of the seat of the chair as the size of the cushion. However, once I finished the cushion and put the inner in, the cushion was too small!  Never thought of that!   So I added a small border around the cushions which actually added to the design.   These cushions amount to a lot of work and one cannot really put a price tag to it.

The second mandala cushion...

Untitled Mandala Cushion #2 - 2015

Every small motif was fused into position and stitched using the raw edge applique technique. Some raw edges were sealed with cords made from cotton yarns.   Additional detail was stitched into the designs.

Next time I'll share En-twine-d...

Sunday, 1 February 2015


A bit late, but a happy 2015 to all the readers of this blog.   Yes, I took time off to rest as this year promises to be very busy with exciting events for me.   More about that at a later stage.

In 2011, our local Dias Quilters' Guild celebrated their 25th birthday.   To celebrate this, there was a Guild challenge to make a piece depicting "25"!   When I first heard about this challenge, I wondered what on earth to create...   As I was sitting at the Guild meeting listening to the speaker, my eyes caught my bangle and immediately I got excited, all within minutes.   Willem gave me this bangle on our 25th wedding anniversary in 2006 and as it was our 34th wedding anniversary yesterday, I thought it a good time to share...

Silver, freshwater pearl and gemstone bangle, inspiration for my interpretation of 25.

Back to the bangle.    At the time I was so caught up with other projects that I did not have time to transform my idea into a project.   I normally make rough sketches of ideas, some ideas are good, others not.   Somehow this sketch kept popping up in my mind and begged to be made.

Rough sketch for 25

I loved the concept and decided to make a cushion cover instead of a quilt as I needed new scatter cushions.  A background of fused horizontal strips in neutral shades was prepared, grading the fabrics from light to medium shades.    I selected a variety of rusty browns and greys for the diagonal shapes (the pearls) and fused it onto the background.  A variety of colours in silk was used for the round shapes (gemstones) and fused into position.   Only the strips were carefully cut as the base fabric had to be covered.   The rectangular and round shapes were cut freehand as I wanted it to look a bit uneven like the silver casings moulded around the pearls and gemstones of the bangle.

I used a feather stitch on the sewing machine to join the strips and the shapes were stitched using the free motion raw edge applique technique in a variety of variegated threads.

25 completed in 2014

Close-up of the stitching of 25

At the moment I'm working on a very special exhibition, more about that at a later stage....   Until then, happy stitching!