September 11, 2014

Tree-House Studio & Dyeing

Welcome to my Tree-House studio! Viola, it's finished (only half of the outside wall unpainted). I hope it will be finished by next weekend. While the painting is going on I will oil the railings and stairs with Sikens oil. Today the reverse cycle air-conditioning was installed. The vendor came and measured the windows and door for vertical blinds last weekend and they should be installed in 2 weeks time. The final piece of furniture is the desk and cabinet units to go in the corner and along the wall. I will have to start packing all my stuff ready to move in soon. I'm not looking forward to that part because I'm not sure where everything would go in the new studio or if I will have enough room for all my stuff. I really don't want to throw anything away if I can help it.  


I took this photo last weekend. The first day of spring and it was a perfect spring day. I could feel that famous Australian heat streaming down on us even at this time of year!

Mr Notjustnat enjoying a spring day painting the last wall of studio. It was Father's Day, but he didn't mind doing that. He likes painting he says! 

We finished putting the first Ikea double wardrobe together a couple of weeks ago. It comes with as many shelves as I need. I have chosen 5 shelves for the moment, but I can add more if I need to. 

I have chosen mirror sliding doors for the wardrobe. Mirrors make the room seem larger. We will have to do it all over again for the second wardrobe!

The Coptic binding journal I post here is now done and given away to a dear friend as a thank you gift for dyeing me some silk with coffee. 

Book bag I have been wanting to make for ages!
I made this from a french book cover.

Starting another journal cover/sleeve for the dye swatches. Apart from keeping the dye journal on this blog I don't actually keep swatches anywhere else. It's never too late to start! 

The wrong side of the journal cover. I used a wrapping cloth from a publishing company in India. The stamp says "Passed export (AIR) Chennai Customs. I love looking at the wrong side of stitching!

Jars stuffed and waiting for steaming process.

After steamed for an hour. 

Dyed silk from the jars.

Coffee Shibori dyed in jar
Close-up of coffee Shibori dyed tied
around rusty nails

I went to a natural dye workshop a couple of weekends ago that my weaving teacher Ilka White runs. It was an introduction to natural dye workshop and I know many of the methods and plants used in the workshop. I learned so much more and thoroughly enjoyed the day. 

Wool and silk dyed using Oxalis

Arashi Shibori: Left to right onion skin
and Eucalyptus Cenerea 

Arashi Shibori sitting out to dry

Dye swatches we got to take home

The natural dye workshop inspired me to do more dyeing. Jar dyeing gives me more varieties of colour using only a small amount of silk for each jar. Lately I experimented dyeing with coffee too. I was surprised how coffee gives such lovely brown. I used the recycled ground coffee not the instant coffee from the jar. I'm planning to dye more of that Shibori to make a wall hanging for the Tree-House studio. 

Until next time

August 31, 2014

Moving Forward

My birthday came and went in a bit of a blur. The day started with a welcome hugs from the lovely Ben and Jodie, my two sweet young colleagues working with me. Jodie who is a whiz in paper crafts made me a lovely bouquet of paper flowers. Other friends brought me pot plants and  cut flowers. 

In-spite of a pre arrangement that we would go out for morning tea/coffee, when the time came the team had their own plans. One of them sneaked out and got us all coffees and we shared them together. More gifts arrived. I feel so special and loved on my birthday!

Another group of friends past and present took me out to lunch at the famous Taste Baguette restaurant on the campus. Taste Baguette is famous for their smooth coffee by a number one barista! 

My desk on the day turned out like a florist shop with all the fresh and paper flowers I received that day. The many coffee cups weren't only mine. The team thought it would be fun to build a wall with empty coffee cups from Taste Baguette! 

I have been working on a commission piece for a go-away gift using my eco-print fabric. The recipient is a furniture designer. She is moving to New Zealand. I had a free run with the fabric and design. The fabrics speak for themselves. I only added stitchings. 

The photo didn't do it justice!.

I have given it to her and she loved it. The fabric was dyed using Eucalyptus bark, leaves and iron mordant in some places. The simplicity is in the prints and lines. I called it Bush Colour. Laura is taking a small piece of Australia with her wherever she goes! 

On my daily walk last week I noticed that the Eucalyptus iron-bark (Sideroxylon) were in full colour so I couldn't resist to photographed them. I use the leaves from these trees when I want an instant result. 

I unwrapped these bundles and jars a couple of weeks ago, but I missed blogging about them on the last post. Some of the jars had been sitting for about a month. 

Here are the Eucalyptus leaves, tea-leaves bush berries and copper pennies from the jars after the bundles have been removed. The goodness is still in the jars, so I preserved the dye to reuse again next time.

And here are the results from the jars and bundles above. So much nicer to put them together like this. Below is another piece from this batch too. I'm very happy with them!

BTW, if you are looking for that special handmade gift for a special person in your life, I'm taking orders for commission pieces using my eco-print fabric. The pieces can be handmade journals, wedding journal, bags, purses, wall hangings, wrapping cloth (Furoshiki or Pojagi), quilts or anything you may think of. 

I have also been thinking about opening an Etsy shop sometime in the future. You can guess by now that I have lots of dyed fabric. I need to make some room in my stash so that I have an excuse to dye some more!

Until next time

August 25, 2014

Birthday 2014

My birthday week has started! I can't seem to just celebrate it on the day. It usually takes a week to fit everyone and everything in! My actual birthday is on 28th Aug. Starting from last night (Sunday night) my lovely friend Mel took me into the city for dinner at Mamasita, a Mexican restaurant. We had a lovely night and managed to get home in one piece! The next event is on Thursday when 12 of my friends and colleagues come to have lunch with me here at the campus. Then on Thursday evening I will join Mr Notjustnat and my daughter Kitiya for dinner in the city. Speaking of the city, I don't know if you have heard that Melbourne has been voted the world's most liveable city in 2014. I'm so glad to be living in Melbourne! 

Now where was I? Have been a bit busy lately with the Tree-House Studio. Every evening we are working on assembling the double wardrobes we got from IKEA to use for storage space. There are some updated photos at the end of this post. In between all that I squeezed in some dyeing and stitching. 

I posted the photo of that eucalyptus branch on Instagram and Facebook a couple of weeks ago. If you love eucalyptus trees as much as I do, you would put all the nice pieces of them in your dye bundle! I didn't open it until the weekend and the result is very pleasing, don't you think?

These three bundles included the one above. I was asked if I soaked and mordant them with iron and how long I steamed them for. I only wet the fabric before wrapping it. The answer is. No soaking or mordant and steamed for 1 hour.   

A week after steaming I just let them sit (dried) in the steamer. The outside bundle was completely dried when I opened it, but the inner part of the bundle was still damp.  

Another shot after the leaves were removed! Fantastic effect of two types of eucalyptus leaves used. This one was wrapped around a copper pipe.

Another bundle was wrapped around a steel pipe and only used one type of leaves eucalyptus (Sideroxylon) in this bundle. 

Putting them next to each other makes a lovely palette of colours. I don't think I can separate them. They are made for each other!

I dabble with a little stitching in my spare time. I started another simplicity block way way back. I wanted to use a couching stitch over a string that I had used for a dyed bundle. I finally got round to doing it and quite like the effect!

Another little stitching is this journal cover using fabric dyed with coffee, rust, eucalyptus leaves on vintage Japanese fabric. 

Prep work on the cover ready for Coptic binding into a journal. I will show you again after I finished it. Below are some photos of the Tree-House studio close to completion. 

The railing has been installed. The steps and railing timber will need to be oiled to bring out the natural colour and grain of the timber.  

Inside painting and flooring is all completed. It's a lovely, light space. Exactly what I need. The first piece of furniture are the double wardrobes we got from IKEA.

This is one wardrobe made up of two modules. After two evenings we managed to assemble it. Both wardrobes are going on the far left corner of the room. 

One of the two sliding doors is in place. The mirrors on the doors will make the room look bigger. There is another door to assemble, and then we have to start  over again for the second wardrobe. Both wardrobes will be placed side by side along the same wall. It's looking good so far. 

Thanks for checking-in on my blog. I'm sorry if I haven't been to visit many blogs lately. From now on I hope to get back to doing more visiting again. Hope you are all keeping well. Spring is on the way here in Melbourne.

Until next time.

August 12, 2014

Online Inspiration etc...

My blog is in prints! The Down Under Textiles magazine contacted me a few months ago to get my permission to publish my blog in their magazine under Online Inspiration section. I completely forgot all about it until I received an email with the attachment (see below). It will be in issue 16 which is next issue. As you know, we bloggers publish our blogs each week or some bloggers publishes everyday, but when someone else publish our blogs you can't help but get the kick out of it!

Amazing that blogs can take care of themselves so well. I haven't been attending my blog lately due to not enough hours in a day to attend to everything, but regardless, the blog counter keeps ticking away. It means that someone is visiting my blog. Thank you and thanks to those who dropped me emails and are checking on me. I'm alive, well and busy. If you want to know if I'm still kicking please check my Instagram where I post a daily photo, but not too much writing!

Also excited to be next to India Flint's article!

Close up of the article

In my last post I mentioned that I had a couple of bundles steamed and then soaked in an oak bath. I hoped I would keep them until spring, but last weekend I decided to open just one, then two. I was very happy with the results from both bundles. After dyeing for a few years, I seem to have got the knack of dyeing!

Eucalyptus leaves and She-oak pine needles

Eucalyptus leaves in rusty solution

New book cover in the making!

We have finally finishing the painting inside the Tree House Studio. As soon as that was finished we started installing the laminate flooring. I'm happy to say, that it was done late Sunday afternoon! The builder will come back and put skirting boards and the window trims next week. We have purchased two double wardrobes from IKEA ready to be installed I hope sometime this week. 

Painting is completed

Flooring is completed

Flooring butted hard against the door

I hope by the time I post next I should have the wardrobes inside the Tree-House. Installing the flooring was quite tiring. I can at least say that I now know how to lay flooring, but I don't think my knees would be pleased to go through that again!

The rain is back again. We need to finish painting the outside as soon as the weather permits.

Until next time

August 1, 2014

Online Workhops, Tree House Studio and Tea Dyeing

Earlier this year I signed up for a few online workshops. One was Alchemy 2014 with Karen Ruane. I'm behind with that workshop, but made a lot of blocks ready to put together when I have spare moment. The other workshop I signed up to was Studio Journal with Sharon Boggon. The Studio Journal workshop started a couple of weeks ago. The first project I made for the workshop was the title page for my journal. 

Journal tittle page

Journal making in progress

Mark making exercise for week 1

Update on my studio: A few people are  calling my studio a Tree house. That name came to my mind too. After it went up I realised how high it really is. Higher than my apricot tree in our backyard. I think I will call it Tree house instead of just upstairs studio!

The Tree House has now got lights! We visited a lighting store last week and choose all the lights we need for it. The electrician came and installed them.

We started painting from the ceiling down. We actually finished painting the undercoat  for the whole room. This photo was taken last weekend, but I didn't get a chance to blog it. 

Recently I was introduced to tea drinking the old Chinese way. The particular tea I tried is called Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province in China. I also found a traditional tea house close to where I live. It's called Milan Tea House. It's specialises in Chinese tea and tea drinking.

Milan Tea House

Clay pots at Milan Tea House

Wendy, the tea house owner is knowledgeable about Chinese teas and tea drinking ceremony. She spent a lot of time with us when we visited. The Milan Tea House doesn't just sell cups of tea. Wendy aims to educate her customers on healthy tea drinking habits. I have been back many times with my visitors. The shop has the feel of an olden day tea house in old cities in China. 


I was taught to make and serve tea the traditional Chinese way. The first tea Wendy recommended to me was Pu-erh tea, the black fermented tea for 7-13 years. It takes getting use to the taste, but after a couple of months of regular drinking, I quite like it now. 

Pu-erh tea is very dark and rich in tannin even after filling and refilling it many times it still leaves that dark rich colour. I put the used leaves in my pot plants the first couple of times, but now I use them in jar dyeing. 

The richness of tannin is coating the outside of the bundle very nicely. I only had a peek, but will open it this weekend. Using tea for dyeing leads me to think about dyeing with ground coffee! Waiting for a cup of coffee one day I saw waste ground coffee being discarded in the bin. I thought that's a lot of tannin wasted! 

I also wrapped and steamed more bundles and some jars last weekend. These bundles are now soaking in oak leaves bath. I hope to leave them there until spring before opening them. 

This blog is taking a back seat lately, but you can visit my Instagram page where I post daily photos. The Tree-House is taking all our spare time in our weekends. We have to schedule our time with the builder's progress. We hope to get painting done this weekend and also to finish laying the flooring as well. 

Until next time