Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

Wishing you all a happy and joyous Christmas, whatever your persuasion might be!

I see Christmas as the ultimate lovefest, where we remember those who are near and dear. It's also an opportunity for thanks as the year is drawing towards its end. A good time to have a quick look back at what the year was like and a chance to express our appreciation to those who have made a difference in our lives.
Here's a little treat from our very summery summer. Fazer milk chocolate with crushed almonds and apricot. The Ned Sauvignon Blanc from Waihopai River in Marlborough, NZ. And beautiful Pohutukawa blossoms.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

beauty break #3

Summer and lazy mornings. Say no more...

upcycled container from a tablecloth

This project was very fast from thought to finish and used 1/4 of a stiff machine embroidered linen/polyester tablecloth. The container is a perfect size to house a little herb plant that is still in its little plastic pot that I bought or raised it in. Fun to make and looks easy on the eye on the kitchen windowsill.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

beauty break #2

On my recent visit to the WOW Museum gallery shop this piece from Andi Regan caught my eye. It's called Mini Urchin and made of cable ties. What a wonderful way to see a utilitarian item made into something so pretty. Here's me thinking if it would be possible to recycle cable ties towards this kind of art, but I suspect the whole point with them is that they won't come undone once they're tied up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Summer School

I will we teaching a three day long Up-cycled sewing workshop on the theme Something new, Something old, Something borrowed at the Creative Journeys Summer School.

We are taking enrolments now, so have a look at the website http://www.creativejourneys.co.nz/up-cycle-sewing.html to find out more or contact me through fibreoflife at gmail.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

beginners sewing workshop

I'm very much looking forward to teaching a beginners sewing workshop at my home studio during the next two Saturdays. I can still take two more students so if you are interested to join in you can contact me at fibreoflife@gmail.com.

This is great for you who already have got a machine but use it mainly for gathering dust. Something about how you thread or adjust the machine is just beyond your comfort zone... What do you do to wind the bobbin and how on earth do you get it to sew buttonholes and in a way that they land in the right place?? Cutting your design might feel a bit intimidating as you don't know how much extra you should allow for seams. You've heard of French seams but never seen one? Come along!

Fibre of Life
sewing room

Beginners sewing class

Two Saturdays 17th and 24th of November 2012.

·                      Learn the absolute basics of sewing from threading a needle, to using simple hand sewing stitches.
·                     Sew on different types of buttons and learn where to place buttons and buttonholes.
·                      Get comfortable with a sewing machine! Wind on a bobbin, thread the machine.
·                      Learn to start sewing forward in straight lines, and turn corners.
·                      Sew simple seams.
·                      Create either a shopping tote or beach bag and/or a simple cushion cover, and take away your finished project and the pattern so you can make it again at home!

Cost: $75
Time: 10am – 2pm. Bring a sandwich for lunch.
Materials required: Bring your own sewing machine, scissors, pins, material and matching thread for your project.

Friday, October 26, 2012

burp in the symphony

My jolly girls have coined a new phrase - a burp in the symphony. I have no idea what it might mean in the mind of a 4 or 6 year old, but it's used in a rather grand way. I try to imagine a burp that interrupts a symphony and love the way it tackles my serious thoughts, turns on the happy glow and just spreads an inner grin somewhere deep in the body...

I can already see how useful this phrase is...
This week turned out to be a bit of a burp in the symphony.
People in groups. There's always someone who turns out to be a burp in the symphony.
It's just begging to have some art created just to be able to use it as a name. 

Ah kids!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nelson Masked Parade 2012

One of my favourite Nelson events is the Masked Parade, when the whole community gets on the streets either to take part in the parade or to watch. This year the theme was Myths and Legends. Here are some entries that caught my eye. I don't remember or know names for all groups or acts. If you know better you could help me name things correctly, so credit goes where credit is due.

 Victory Adult ESOL
Montessori Preschool (?) Taniwha
 Hampden Street School
 I think this was Hampden St School as well.
 A solo stiltwalker.
 Nayland College.
  Nayland College.
  Nayland College.
  Nayland College.

 Tasman School.
These two characters were part of a larger band, but stood out strutting and trumpeting in their colander hats and huge black sideburns.
 Dragon and knight.
Nayland Primary School
Nayland Primary School
Nayland Primary School
Nayland Primary School
 This is one of the two creatures that started the parade.

Thank you Nelson, I love you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

beauty break #1

The above flower I picked by the mailbox is a bit special as it gave birth to this idea of a beauty break. The term is very respectfully borrowed from my Facebook feed where "Awakening Women Institute" (founded by inspirational Chameli Ardagh) shares goodness under the same name. I just can't think of a better way to say it.

Now I have been a bit more regular with my posts here but not quite enough to explain the growing number of pageviews I've observed in the last months. It's delightful and interesting as I have no idea how people find their way here and who they are. Curious friends, some good old internet stalkers mixed with folk with a textile bend is my guess as I've kept my focus in that direction.

As a thank you for visiting and with the intention to keep rewarding you with new posts on a regular basis I've given myself an excuse to post little delights without needing to be wordy and to widen the visual outside the textile/fibre/dye/stitch. And please give me a sharp kick in the shin if this blog has any hint of turning into fulltime flowers and kittens kind. Pretty please.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

floor talks, floors, walls and ceiling

I've spent a couple of mornings at the Refinery Artspace giving floor talks to friends and random visitors. I really enjoy that type of interaction and had an opportunity to meet some interesting new people as well.

I also had a chance to support my 6 year old with a drawn out apology to Duncan for snapping the wire that his welded chainlink sculpture was hanging from at the back entrance... Just a bit of drama that happened at the opening.

While I was spending time at the gallery I had time to take some snaps. Here's the neglected rear view of "From Finland with Love".
And a side angle.
 The paint splattered gallery floor deserves a portrait

and I quite like the way the repairs just sit among the old.
 The toilet is a creative retreat. Here's the runway to it.
The toilet floor. Beautiful methinks.
The walls are quite a statement
and the ceiling is an interesting collage of pump station plans coloured with what could be crayon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a clean table

Today the Strands crew gathered for an exhibition project debrief at my house. It was nice but sad to see everyone for what seemed to be the last time in terms of "Beginnings". Most were tired, some unwell, some ready to move on to the next big thing. Rather like an anticlimax.

We've met roughly once a month for 18 months... It's created a safe space for us to share where we're at both with our work and any other personal things that affect our output and energy. It's given a monthly reason to check in to see what progress I've actually made since the last time, very handy when life throws curveballs that easily get me off the track. I sure will miss our regular gatherings and the valuable feedback and inspiration from others.

18 months ago I thought I'll know what my bigger direction will be in the end of this project and it has proven to be a wonderful homecoming. I've returned to my designer/dressmaker me after some years of creating more conceptual textile art. Actually I've brought the two together with no intent to abandon either. I had my sweetest moment during the photo shoot day with Ishna. (It'll be worth a separate flashback post to write about my previous garment photo sessions from years ago.) It felt like - this is what I used to do, this is what I'm meant to do. Peace.

I've wanted to get back to making wearable items for a couple of years (other than knitting funny hats,lol) and now I'm here, beyond the wanting. I can't wait to see people wearing my frocks and skirts and tops (as those are the things I like to wear myself). I interrogated everyone for tips on how they run the business side of their textile artist career, and felt the excitement tickle in the tummy.  Back on the saddle girl! 

After everyone left I walked to the shop to get the paper, as the Wednesday Art section was rumoured to have our exhibition critiqued. You can read the review here.

Marveling at my empty work table I could not avoid the inevitable: it's been waiting for a couple of layers of proper topcoat paint for long enough. Today there was nothing waiting to be cut or sorted on the surface, the day was sunny and warm, and I had time. Zero excuses. 
So full of promise and freshness, clean and new... It's a beauty!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

hung and opened

This photo is borrowed from Refinery Artspace Facebook gallery.
I named this ensemble From Finland with Love.
It's made of peat felt, jute and ecodyed silk organza.
The blurb goes like this:

Years ago I acquired an unusual piece of felt. The cotton grass that grows on top of the sphagnum moss that Finnish bogs are made of has rotted under the earth for nearly a thousand years, transforming it into a unique textile fibre. Here this material represents my country of origin quite literally. Mixed with wool it has been used to make thick felt that when worn as a wide skirt becomes grounding and protecting due to sheer weight.

I had a very down to earth upbringing on a small farm as did most of my forefathers and mothers. Even though being skilled in many crafts was part of the old rural lifestyle, my choice to study fashion design was a bit outside the accepted comfort zone. It was just a bit too frivolous and arty and not really real work… And yes, I still feel like a peasant’s daughter, feet in the mud and head full of grand ideas. No matter what finery I endeavour to create, the utilitarian sack cloth beginnings remain underneath it all.

After a Saturday meeting with the Strands crew, Sunday moving walls in the gallery and hanging, Monday doing interviews and sticking on labels and Tuesday organising greeting cards and posters to sell and then rushing to the opening... It's all done! The exhibition is there for everyone to see and today we are lying low picking ourselves up. Or maybe I should just speak for myself.

The last days were busy working together and at times challenging as I had my darling girls with me most of the time. I'm full of admiration for the resilience of my colleagues and Duncan and Roger at the gallery.

 Another photo from Refinery Artspace.
The silk dress is eco dyed georgette and called The Un-Wedding Dress.

The white peonies of the wedding bouquet
forming prints on the cloth.
Plums and pomegranate transcending.
Transformation, stepping into the single life again.

Duncan whipped up a hanger for my silk dress on the spot while we were setting everything up. As a thank you my girls wrecked his sculpture on the backyard on the opening night... Well not quite, the piece is made of welded chain so it's pretty solid, but it was hung with a wire/rope that the girls had twisted to the point of snapping. A dramatic tumble brought down the sculpture, the girl and a bench. Two of these things suffered injury, ouch.

The crowd that gathered to the opening night made it seem like a party. There were dear friends that I expected to see and some lovely surprises too. Roger and Jo took care of the official talking and the rest was the sort of mingling openings are made of.

I had booked a massage for this morning, and the timing was impeccable. My lower back has been sore on and off for a couple of months and my masseuse friend did some seriously deep work to release the tension that was held in the area. As a result my body feels light and new and wonderfully recovered.
 Credit for even this photo goes to Refinery Artspace.

You can see what Nelson Mail wrote here.

Saturday, September 29, 2012




Maria Julkunen
Jo Kinross
Ronnie Martin
Meg Nakagawa
Pat Spitz

We are a group of Nelson-based textile artists.  We come from different geographic locations – Finland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States.  Our textile art techniques are equally diverse but we share a passion for exploring the possibilities of fibre arts.

About 18 months ago, we decided to have a joint exhibition.  Since then we have met at least monthly to have fun as we supported and encouraged each member's creativity and challenged each other to extend artistic expression in innovative ways.

Each of us has interpreted the concept of “Beginnings” differently, representing our different creative urges.   Our works express:  the beginning of working as a conceptual artist with a focus on social and environmental concerns; conveying belonging and origin, transformation and transcending; the silk road; ancient maps and marks as memory; and water and earth as the classic elements of all life.

distilled writing

Working with our Strands group towards our Beginnings exhibition has taught me in detail what goes into making an exhibition happen. I've had the opportunity to tap into the experience of colleagues that have more history in organising and putting their work on show.

I've written artist bios a couple times before, but now I've crafted an artist statement and an artist profile and the blurbs to go with the work are yet to be polished. As a group we spent a lot of time discussing our "mission statement" when we lauched (in the end we abandoned writing it down) and now we have a group statement (that the "mission" debate clarified a great deal).

All this writing has been interesting and challenging, even though we're not talking about great lengths of text. The compressed impact of it takes me ages to distill from my rambling thoughts and deeply felt but flighty feelings. 

This is my "statement" that is found in our catalogue together with the image below. On the image you can also see the words Ecopunk Couture that I'm tasting and feeling as a potential label to carry on working with. What do you think?

Maria Julkunen

My life has always included some form of creativity. I started sewing at a young age, enjoyed drawing and painting and started filling folders with collages of ideas years before I was taught to do the very same things at a design school.

I love the craft that is needed to create beautiful garments and have always been fascinated by what we communicate of ourselves through the clothes we wear.

I love natural materials for their earthy integrity. Natural fibres are in tune with our bodies and connect us with the wider world when used with respect for the environment from which they come. Dyeing cloth with plants and metals holds an element of surprise that keeps the mind humble and open.

My style has been influenced by the rather minimalist Finnish design tradition that subscribed to the idea that form follows function. I combine artisan techniques and environmental awareness which results in a type of eco couture.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

woodland queen

My heart is just bursting with BEAUTY!! It's so rewarding to emerge from my sewing room, hand the garments to others and witness visual poetry take place...

Click on the photos for a closer look.

Thank you Ishna Jacobs for your genius behind the camera and Noa Parker for your stunning presence.

photo shoot adjustments

Click on the photo for a closer look.
Noa on the left, me on the right, photo by Ishna Jacobs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

photo shoot day!

There was still lots of stitching going on last night, just in time to be ready for a photo shoot with talented Ishna Jacobs behind the camera and beautiful Noa in front.

The real photos will emerge later this week. (Some can be viewed here and here.)

 Spot the photographer!
Isel Park in Stoke, Nelson put on a riot of blossoms for us to wade in under the spring sun... Ease and flow, a special day with two lovely ladies. Thank you Ishna and Noa!!