13 February 2017

In the studio with Ali George

It's always a privilege to write about quilters' studios. I think we can learn from the ways other creative people set up their work spaces; we can see how they organise their materials and consider whether some of their ideas may suit our own studios.


For issue 83 of Quilters Companion magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ali George, who lives on a five-acre property in Queensland. Her descriptions of her two studios (yes, two! How jealous does that make me?) and the surrounding landscape tempted me to move there immediately.

This is part of the joy of writing about creative studios and their owners - it allows me (and eventually you, the readers) to learn about places we may never visit in real life.

Last week I discovered that Ali and her husband are selling their property in Tarome so, if you are tempted, you can move there and allow the stunning scenery inform your textile work, too!

30 January 2017

Three things I like this week

I haven't written one of these posts for a while but it's a regular subject I want to revive. Staying positive and looking for the good things in our lives can be challenging sometimes, can't it? 


1. Being Australian

Australia's not a perfect place but I'm thankful I was born here. With all the scary things going on around the world, I'm so glad to live here in our small part of the planet.

2.  Technology

It allows me to stay in touch with you all; to have electricity and all the benefits that brings with it; and to learn from the collective wisdom of others. For that, I am thankful.

3. My garden

It's nothing special, just my own little patch of earth. Currently struggling in the summer heat, it needs a lot of tidying and maintenance but every time I potter around in it I am happy.

What do you like this week?

23 January 2017

My book of the month: January

My favourite novel this month is The Woman Next Door. I cherish Liz Byrski's novels because she shows the rich lives of older women. There's so much to learn about how to live a fulfilling life from her characters and I can imagine them living next door to me. That's a sign of a good writer - creating believable and likeable characters - isn't it?

It's not all beautiful sunsets and happy days, either. That's another aspect of Byrski's novels that draws me in - these could be real people. The characters are so well-drawn and the author's empathy is evident as she portrays their feelings, frustrations, disappointments and loves.

Read more about The Woman Next Door on Goodreads.

09 January 2017

So much advice!

The beginning of a new calendar year brings a flood of articles and blog posts offering (mostly unsolicited) advice. Do this, don't do that, set goals, choose a word, make lists.

So much busyness!

Does anyone take any notice of these things? Are they written simply because someone, somewhere, decreed that, while in the midst of holiday lethargy (a period that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real life we lead for most of the year) people want to hear how to organise their lives?


In the meantime, I'll continue to meander through my life in my own way, enjoying the moments along the way, adopting the philosophy of this Tibetan proverb:

"The secret of living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure." 

Sounds perfect.

02 January 2017

Playing with Prisma

If you follow me on my Facebook pages (Erica Spinks and Creative Dabbling), you may have seen that I've been having fun on my tablet with an app called Prisma. I've shared some of the altered images I've made on those pages but here I want to show how different a single photograph can appear once it's been processed with various filters.



This is my original photograph. I took this picture last January at a workshop with Sophie Munns, held at the Australian PlantBank at The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mt Annan. I love the shape of the seedpod, as well as the textures - smooth on the inside and rough on the outside. I wondered how the Prisma filters would alter the colours and look?


This is the 'Illegal Beauty' filter. I like the subtle colours - a pink and yellow combination is one of my favourites.



This filter is 'Composition'. It makes the photo graphic and dramatic. Quite striking, don't you think?


'Mosaic' is one of my favourite filters. Not all photos translate well with this filter because some of shapes fragment into too many pieces but I like this result.


This is the 'Electric' filter, where the waving lines add an element of movement to the seedpod shape and background.

Prisma is available for Android and for iOS, so you can download it from the usual places. The filters are fabulous and the app is free! Have you tried it yet?

26 December 2016

Holiday sewing

It's holiday time here so my thoughts turn to sewing. If you're looking for a simple quilt project to make during your holidays, I have a free quilt pattern for you!



This is my Sunshine on Roses quilt, called that because the yellow and pink colours remind me of the dappled sunshine on the petals of the pink rose in my garden. Aah... summer!

Please enjoy my gift to you and enjoy making your own version of Sunshine on Roses. I'd love to see your photos. 

19 December 2016

A new quilt project!

I haven't done much sewing this year because other projects and activities have claimed my time. It's been a wonderful year, with much to celebrate and I'm grateful for all that I've experienced.

But I do long for handwork. Meditative stitching is a great pleasure for me and I've been looking for a project that will challenge and entertain me. Now I've found it - a new BOM project designed by my friend, Sarah Fielke 


Down the Rabbit Hole it is! (Except I'll be doing the floral border option, not the bunnies.)

Sarah has produced these colouring-in sheets to help participants choose fabric colour combinations. Colouring is enjoyable and I've taken out my box of gorgeous Derwent pencils to get started. Such fun!

Colouring will also help keep us occupied while we are waiting for our first cutting and sewing instructions (due at the end of January).

If you'd like to make the BOM, too, you can read about it here. The dedicated Facebook group is already rocking!