My Painting 'Native Fuschia' 
Yesterday I took the painting 'Native Fuschia' to live at my brother Tony's place. His wife and my sister-in-law, Marilyn, really loved this work so I suggested that I hang it in their lounge on a loan basis.

Here it is as it looks in a close up view.

And hanging on their wall.

The Transition from One Studio to Another 
The transition from one studio to another has taken a wee while. When I first came home to Christchurch a little over two weeks ago, my first thought was to visit my looms which were sitting in my brother's warehouse.

This is how the tapestries, the bobbins and the yarns looked when I first saw them. There was dust all over them but with careful vacuuming and shaking etc they are now all looking good.

A few days later my looms were brought into my home and the double taken and stored at Tony's warehouse in exchange for the loom. Thank God for a wonderful supportive family, brothers and sisters and all.

Here you can see my brother-in-law Cedric (at the back) helping the truck driver to carry one of the looms into the spare room. And here are the yarns that were first rescued.

And here are the looms all set up and almost ready for work.

Diane is tipping out the yarns rescued last Friday on to a blanket ready for cleaning. It took us about two hours to get all the dust off these yarns, but they are all looking good now.

And here we are - weaving again. Hurrah!

The space is small but it is working well. We just have to be careful to keep the yarns organised and tidy so that we don't trip up over them all the time. I am so lucky that I was able to set the looms up again and that we can now get back into the work. Happiness is............ being able to work at what we love doing!

My Studio in the Art Centre of Christchurch is No More! 
I am finally back into my blog again and see that my last entry was made on the 11th February. That day my studio was looking great and Diane and I were working away on my commissioned tapestries. Today, two months later this is how the studio looks. It is roughly the same area as the photograph shown in my last blog entry, except the loom is missing. My looms came out four weeks ago yesterday and were taken out by a team of people and an engineer whom my son-in-law Ian had organised from Hamilton. It was such a good feeling to have my looms safe. Ian worked very hard to achieve that and my heartfelt thanks go to him for all his efforts.

On February 22nd (my Dad's birthday) a very violent earthquake struck our city once again. This earthquake, only 6.3 on the Richter scale was the most violent I have ever felt, and I have felt numerous large earthquakes in my life, being born and brought up on the West Coast of the South Island. This earthquake was centred near Lyttelton, underneath the very hard rocks of the Banks Peninsula. These rocks are so hard that they did not absorb the shock waves but instead, bounced them off in every direction, towards and underneath the city. They were only about 5 kilometres underground as well which made it all worse. Evidently the G forces were enormous, larger than any before, for an earthquake of that size on the Richter scale.

I had a wonderful visitor in my studio that day - Sue Walker who was the director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop from its inception in the 1970's until a couple of years ago. I was so wowed by her presence in my studio, and we were discussing the tapestries when the earthquake struck about five minutes after she arrived. What a welcome to Christchurch for her!! I remember saying as we struggled towards the door trying to keep upright, "Boy that one has got to be an 8!" We stayed under the door for a few seconds until the shaking subsided a little and then Diane and I made sure that Sue and another couple who were in the studio got down the stairs safely. At the bottom Diane and I, at the same instant, said "Gee, Our bags, the car keys!!" and back up the stairs we dashed, rushed behind the loom, delved under all the fallen stuff from the shelving, the dirt and dust from the walls, and rescued the bags and Diane found my carkeys. And didn't my kids give me a hard time about going back up!!!!!

Outside it was all chaos, people rushing everywhere, the Observatory Tower down on the ground, screams coming from all directions and then everyone standing together in the middle of the South Quad lawn. I was so sure that there were work people underneath the rubble, but I found out about two weeks later that nobody was hurt in the Arts Centre. We were all so lucky! Chris, the maintenance boss told us all to make our way home. I looked for Sue and couldn't find her, saw Serena panicking and breathing hard, gave her a hug and said 'Slow Down, take a deep breath" but she was off again once she realised I was out of the studio and safe. She also disappeared and I saw Diane striding out across the lawn before she disappeared too. I think all our instincts were to just get home which was what I did too. Walked to my car and slowly made my way home. Lissie my daughter rang my cell phone just as I got to the Montreal St corner and it was so good that she managed to get through! She remembers me saying that there were buildings down on the ground everywhere, but I have no memory of actually seeing them.

This was how the Observatory Tower looked last Friday when we were allowed into the studio to rescue more of my 'stuff'. We were given half an hour on Friday morning. I had gathered together a team of us, me and Diane, my sister Julie and her husband Cedric and George, Wilson's friend who also came in with us to rescue Wil's work as he had to attend ERO meetings that day and couldn't come with us.

Here we are in our hard hats, me, Julie and George.

And here we are waiting for our safety talk! Cedric all geared up with his ladder to rescue the Railway Cup tapestries, which he did beautifully. Quite frightening, but once we got in there we didn't have time to worry about being safe. We just got on with it, bringing out as much as we could in the time allowed. Liz Hodgson, who was the person organising everyone to be able to go into their spaces, is in the middle of us in the orange jacket. Liz was very helpful and supportive of our rescue. My thanks go out to her as well.

Here is a back view of Diane starting to pick up the yarns as she knew just what we needed to continue working on the tapestries. See all the plastic bins we took up with us. Loads of black rubbish bags as well. These photos are very blurry, as my hand was quite shakey and I took the photos too quickly being aware of the lack of time.

Here is a view of the studio looking towards Wilson's and Anne's looms with George photographing the mess. You can see my tapestries still rolled up under the glass shelves. They soon got picked up and taken outside.

Here are some of my paintings resting by the pool and waiting to be put into the truck.

Here is the alleyway between the studio and the Scott building next door. Lucky we weren't standing here when the earthquake struck. The beautiful old buildings are going to be rebuilt, but that will take time and money, I guess. I will not be going back into the Arts Centre with my studio. At the moment my looms are in my spare room and we are back working on the tapestries. I will need to relocate though as my wee flat is not big enough to hold all my studio.

Busy in the Studio 
This is my first entry on my blog for this year. I have been working, since my return from Hobart in early January, on a commissioned work that I am at the moment unable to publicise or advertise. However I can show you all the studio with one piece on the loom. This commission has a fairly tight time frame so I have employed Diane Ammar to work with me on this project. It is going well and we are keeping up to the required schedule. I rather overdid it in the first two or three weeks as I wasn't sure how fast we could work and a consequence of this was that my neck ended up with a touch of bursitis. However, I have now eased up on the amount I am doing each day and my neck has improved immensely.

Here is a view of the studio, taken yesterday morning, showing one piece on the loom and all the yarns surrounding us. The studio space is rather small, so we are stepping over yarns all the time. However, they look lovely and are very inspirational to our work. It looks rather chaotic but it is very easy to find the colours that we want with them tipped all over the floor like this. Diane and I are making colour choices all the time, mixing and blending the colours on the bobbins. Luckily we do not have to do hatching in the weaving, so the work is progressing faster. We are aiming to weave 1 sq ft each week and have almost kept up to that. The design is a mixture of complex and simple areas, so a good balance is kept there.

This image shows my hands at work.

And here is Diane sewing slits on her piece. She is weaving very well, as previously she has only worked on miniature tapestries. It is a huge change for her to work on a larger piece.

Here is what is going on outside the studio. The Observatory Tower in the Arts Centre was very badly damaged in the earthquake in September last year, and every aftershock increases the damage. A couple of days ago workmen started to put scaffolding up around the tower, so it looks as if work might start on trying to repair some of the damage.

The James Chu tapestry is Completed 

Here is the James Chu tapestry as it was nearing completion. His wife Julia, who commissioned the tapestry in memory of her husband James, came into the studio last Saturday and cut the tapestry from the loom.

And here we are after the tapestry was released from the loom. Julia is so happy with the tapestry and it will be given to her son one day to pass down through his family.

And here it is after all the finishings had been completed. It took me two days to tidy up the back threads and have it ready for hanging. Julia is coming into the studio this morning to pick up the tapestry and take it home.

A Day in the Studio 
Today has been rather quiet in the studio. I took Sharon to the bus depot yesterday morning so she is now doing the tourist thing down near Queenstown and visiting Milford and Doubtful Sounds, Te Anau, Wanaka and seeing the south of the South for two weeks before she heads north to Hamilton to spend a week with Nynke Piebanga in her studio under Pirongia Mountain.

I have been in the studio on my own today, as Anne is teaching spinning down at Ashfords for two days. Quite a few people came in including this family whom I photographed weaving on the small table loom which is always set up for people to try their hand at weaving. Here are Luca, Nico and Isabella with their Mum looking on.

I have been working on the commissioned tapestry and it is coming near to completion with about three more weeks work to finish it.

Sharon Left Christchurch this Morning. 
Yesterdy was the last day of Sharon's weaving tapestry in the studio and she completed her tapestry and even managed to do a small sample learning pick and pick, diagonals and half a circle. So she worked very hard during the two weeks she was here and was very happy with what she had learnt and the achievement of a completed small tapestry. she experienced two rather good earthquakes while she was here and a couple of small ones which we hardly noticed. But last night she was in the shower when we had a good 4.9 quake. Quite an experience and a shaky goodbye to Christchurch. She left on the bus for Queenstown early this morning.

My Third Student from Overseas 
This has been a very busy week for me as I have my third student Sharon who hails from near Boise in Idaho. She is spending two weeks with me, sharing my home and studio and learning to weave her first tapestry. We are having lots of fun and Sharon is thoroughly enjoying weaving the small work which features a native New Zealand flower.

Sharon has been progressing well with her first tapestry. She is picking up and understanding the underlying principles behind the techniques and that enables her to weave more quickly each day. I think she will complete the tapestry within another three days so that will give her time to learn some other techniques that do not come into this tapestry. Pick and pick, soumak,ghiorde knots and other textural techiques, some more practice with hatching etc will all be good for her to learn.

Canterbury Spinners and Weavers Area Exhibition 
Last week I attended the opening of the Canterbury Spinners and Weavers Area Exhibition. I had submitted 'Lace 2' the tapestry of my daughter in to this exhibition and I got a lovely surprise when the work was awarded a special award called The President's Award. Here is a photo of the tapestry as it was shown in the exhibition.

Here are some more photo's of the exhibition in which the quality of the work was superb.

The portrait commission is Progressing 
I am progressing well with the portrait commission. Yesterday I worked on the first eye and I think I have got it okay. I was hoping that I would not have to unweave it and do it again, and, looking at it, I don't think I will have to do that. This first photograph was taken a few days ago when I had been working on the numbers to the left of the face. These numbers relate to James' life and his wife Julia wrote them out for me. i have tried to weave them in as near to her handwriting as I can get it.

The photo below shows the design concept on paper.

And this next one shows the work with the first eye woven.

Today I will start working on the second eye. It is amazing how the essence of a person comes in once the eyes have been completed. I find they are the hardest part to weave on any tapestry portrait, and it is so important to get it right. I also had to do quite a bit of unweaving when I was first working out the tonal values of the grey/blues in the face. This work comes to life when it is viewed from a distance. Close-up it looks like a whole lot of shapes and colours. The face can be seen alright then, but it really is designed to be seen at a distance.

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