Pattern Nation

An Exhibition of Textile Works stitched by ZigZag and inspired by Patterns of Our Land launched at Brown Brothers Cellar Door June 2003

The Challenge ZigZag members made for themselves was to use patterns in a creative but distinctive way.

An Overview of inspirations for my 6 quilts included in this exhibition

The name 'Pattern-nation' brought a wealth of ideas flooding into my mind. There are many patterns which can be seen in Australia, they may be repeating patterns, patterns which can stand alone, they can come from nature, from man made items or can be old or new patterns.

Eventually I chose the elements of trunks and branches of selected eucalyptus trees. The shapes and textures have inspired me to make these textile images with the thought of patterns always paramount in my mind. Sometimes the pattern has been repeated and other times I have viewed the pattern as a single unit which could be repeated but is attractive on its own.

Both hand dyed and commercial cotton fabrics have been utilised. Cold water Procian Dyes have been used for the dyeing of white homespun fabric. I have used fabric paint for all stencilling and printing. Polyester Pellon batting has been used in all quilts.

Gimlet Avenues

Size: 111 x 137 cm

Description:Inspiration for this quilt came from the beautiful Gimlet Gums of Western Australia. They stand tall on either side of the Eyre Highway east from Norseman. These trees have smooth 'coppery' coloured trunks which are deeply fluted. The branches are slender and stark and the simple images lend themselves to the creation of a pattern.

The correct name for these trees is ‘eucalyptus salubris’. The common name was developed because the fluted trunks are like the old fashioned gimlet tool which was used for boring holes.

Fabrics and Techniques. I cut a stencil from the clear shape of the Gimlet trees and it was easy to choose the rich tan coloured paint for the printing of the pattern. The images have been emphasised with machine quilting in a variegated rayon thread and the surrounds and leaf debris are represented by large hand quilting stitches of heavy cotton thread in the soft colours of dried leaves. A traditional binding has been attached to the quilt in the same yellow fabric as used in the border.'Gimlet Avenues' was

Ghostly Gums.

Size: 70 x 88 cm

Description: The idea for this hanging originated from a photograph of the beautiful glossy branches of the Ghost Gum (eucalyptus papuana). This magnificent and elegant tree has been the subject used by artists for many years. They are dominant in many inland areas of Australia. I chose a section of branches to use in a repeating pattern.

Fabrics and Techniques: Both fabrics used have been marked by the discharge process of applying bleach to fabric to make an original design. The background mustard fabric is a commercial homespun which I have discharged with bleach. The fabric folded into a small square shape and each side dipped into bleach. Very swiftly a checked pattern was achieved. The blue fabric was firstly hand dyed then discharged to make a mottled design. I photo-copied a magazine photo of a Ghost Gum and simplified the image until it was suitable to use as an appliqué shape. The image was then appliquéd to the mustard fabric using the raw edge' method. I used a straight line quilting design, in a variegated rayon thread, to echo the idea of the checked pattern. A 'raw-edge' binding in mustard completes the quilt.


Size: 70 x 97 cm

Description:The original thought for this quilt came from photos I had taken of interesting trees which display amazing colour and patterns during the time when the bark peels from their smooth trunks. The Lemon Scented Gum (eucalyptus citriodora), the Spotted Gum ( eucalyptus maculata) and the Manna Gum ( eucalyptus viminalis) are 3 common varieties that come to mind. The colours revealed can be either delicate or stark making the bark patterns quite spectacular. These patterns stand alone as single images but could be used as a repeating patterns.

Fabrics and Techniques: A blue fabric was used as a background to represent the sky colour backdrop to the trees. The 3 cream coloured tree trunks have been roller painted with a metallic finish paint. The 2 green fabric shapes have been hand dyed while the tan fabric shape was a maroon commercial fabric which has been discharged. These bark shapes have been applied with vlisofix and 'straight' quilted with variegated rayon threads. The torn edges add to the tactile feel of the quilt. It was not necessary to add a binding to the

The Leaves Are Blue

Size: 70 X 44 cm

Description: This was the first quilt I made in the series. It was inspired by the bark on the trunk of the Blue Gum. The Southern Blue Gum tree (eucalyptus bicostata) in my garden has pale coloured bark with darker textures. The bark has a rough 'pattern-like' texture and is very distinctive as it ages and falls in sheets to the ground. And yes, the leaves of the Blue Gum are distinctly blue/green in colour.

Fabrics and Techniques: This was a fun quilt to create. Firstly I rusted the fabric with the chemical process of dipping the white fabric through 3 solutions made from Caustic Soda, Ferris Sulphate and tea bags. The strips of \'bark-like\' fabric were torn and/or burnt to give a textured appearance. One commercial fabric was used as a dark contrast.

Burnt Orange

Size: 70 X 44 cm

Description: Burnt Orange is a quilt in recognition of the shocking bush fires of January 2003 after which we visited Mt Buffalo only to find a tragic sight. The fires had ravaged through our mountains leaving the Alpine Ash (eucalyptus delegatensis) tall and black and the Mountain Gum (eucalyptus dalrympliana) a mottled bright orange. The combination of orange and black with the green regrowth looked quite remarkable. The blackened and 'burnt orange' trees were a stark reminder as new growth bravely emerged from the blackened trunks. The scene was stark, but strangely spectacular.

Fabric and Techniques: Both commercial and hand dyed fabrics have been used to create this image. The fabrics were torn into strips and appliquéd by machine stitching, using rayon thread. The contrast of the black, orange and bright green are important to the whole effect of this quilt.

Black Sallee

Size: 70 X 44 cm

Description: The White Sallee or Snow Gum (eucalyptus pauciflora) is closely related to the Black Sallee (eucalyptus stellulata). Both trees thrive in the ranges of North Eastern Victoria and are related to the Mallee Sallee. All have a distinctive and attractive growth habit where all branches come from the base of the tree. Black Sallee has a rough grey bark which has an appealing combination of muted colours which are subtle yet form an appealing pattern.

Fabrics and Techniques: A range of commercial fabrics in the grey/brown colour range were chosen and ripped into strips. Some of these strips were burnt over a candle to give 'bark like' edges and texture. Rayon thread was used for the quilting.

These last three quilts have been made with a 'bark' theme closely observed. They have all been developed from photos I have taken of interesting and colourful tree trunks. The actual design in the bark appears as a pattern to me. It is not a pattern which could be easily repeated but does lend itself to further exploration. I have done this by the use of torn strips of fabric some of which have been made more complex by the burning and fraying of edges. The texture is very much part of the Pattern effect.

I have used a combination of commercial and hand dyed fabrics to achieve the end appearance of rough, colourful bark. Once again variegated rayon thread has been used for the straight quilting.

With each quilt I began with a backing fabric, then a layer of Pellon batting and topped with a base fabric which toned with the chosen bark. After this I appliquéd and quilted in the same process as the torn strips were stitched to the base layers. The raw edges of these 3 quilts add to the rough 'bark like' effect.