Textiles and hot air

Did you know that if two balloons touch during a flight it’s called a “kiss”. This piece of balloon trivia was discovered after an early morning trip to the forground of old parliament house to watch the launching of dozens of balloons. Every year as part of the annual Canberra Festival a Balloon Fiesta is held.

The Questacon balloon is impressive as it is as high as an eight story building, can carry 10 passengers. It didn’t think these gentle giants full of hot air would make me feel insignificant but this balloon did.

The envelope of balloons are made from heat resistant ripstop nylon with a polyurethane coating to make it air tight. The panels are sewn together using a twin needle and french seams. The envelope is strengthened by vertical tapes that run from top to bottom relieving the pressure on the fabric.


The zig zag or chevron pattern so often seen is apparently the cheapest to make because there is less material wasted but hot air balloons come in all shapes and sizes, many looking down right surreal floating above the lake in Canberra.

Balloon design and construction is one of those areas in textiles until this morning I had given little thought to. This year each morning we have had a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, a green frog, a house complete with cat on the roof and a football drifting above us as we drive around the edges of the lake on our way to work.

Yesterday as we rounded the corner to the Canberra School of Art (where I work) Vincent Van Gogh hung in the air above. It is a good way to start the day, as there is something about a balloon that makes you smile.

More contemporary textile artists making Journal quilts:

Another quilter who has kept a journal in the form of textiles is Sandra T. Donabed. She employs photgraphed and scanned images, which are digitally manipulated and then transferred to fabric. To this fabric Sandra Donabed stitches, manipulates and quilts. Sandra uses this technique in her larger quilts too, employing it in the current project she is working on “Multiple Choice” If you are interested in autobiographical statements made using fiber, Donabed’s quilt gallery contains a number of interesting pieces. Nearly all her work could fall into this category or autobiography.

Mono printing is another technique Sandra T. Donabed uses. Often these pieces hint at her own history, or the story of other women but I found in many of them my own story too. Check out her site, there is some interesting work there.

New Blog on the block Wild Women and Dream Weavers

Another textile blog has been started under the title of Wild Women and Dream Weavers Cheryl Sisson’s blog has only been going a few days but pop over and check it out. While you are at it check out her website RareAir Designs too.

I was delighted to hear about this new blog as I see blogs a bit like a conversation at a quilting or sewing group. At these groups women work on their projects while they share their stories, and knowledge. People talk about techniques, share tricks and tips, show each other their work, encourage each other to learn and perfect a skill, swap bits of their stash, and share their histories as people. In the process cultural artifacts that take the form of needlework or quilts are made. Other things are also built or maintained as friendships are made, traditions are passed on, and skills developed.

Blogs could work as these groups do. There are already a number of blogs that document various projects in progress. These blogs are performing in the same way as when stitchers take along your latest project to a group to show how far they have progressed since the last get together. People who love textiles can take the blog genre further. Just as in one of these stitching groups you would show someone how to do something automatically sharing a skill without thinking about it textile practioners can share the information they discover online. In doing so others can learn a skill, keep a tradition alive and I think build an online network which in some cases become friendships.

The difference between blogs and these quilting and stitching groups however is that blogs are not closed. You have to be a member of a group to gain the benefits but many people can’t attend a group regularly. They may have small children, or their working hours clash with the time of the meeting, or they may live in an isolated area. This is where a network of bloggers can provide a resource as isolation is not an issue if you are online and you can read a blog or maintain your own blog at a time that suits you. When the kids are asleep or after work you can take some time out for yourself and tap into a group of people that have similar interest. I know that email discussion groups already perform this but blogs allow images to be posted and you can read or update them as you choose. Many people don’t want their email box any fuller than it already is as they feel obligated to read and post to the list. Many list lurkers are simply very busy people who don’t have time. Lurkers can read blogs guilt free yet gain heaps from them and its OK.

Blogs can also raise the profile of textiles as a medium suitable for artistic expression. In a email discussion list the people are all subscribers who are already practitioners. Blogs can be read by anyone, anywhere, anytime and those people can leave comments. Simply put, blogs are more accessible and therefore the possibility of exposing the strengths of textiles and fiber art can only be of benefit. Many textile practitioners complain that fiber artists are not taken seriously and are misunderstood but so much of their conversation is amongst themselves. That’s fine and has its place but sharing the love of fiber with outside world is also important. I realize that the majority of my readers are interested in textiles so it is still in house but because it is published online rather than to a discussion list it at least opens the door of possibility that people outside the group will stumble in and find at least some things about textiles interesting.

As you can see I am a believer in the more blogs on textiles the better. Textiles and fiber arts as a topic is so broad that everyone comes at the subject from a different angle. Anyway welcome Cheryl have fun with your blog!