Thursday, 17 December 2015


I am always surprised at how quickly the end of the year arrives with the momentum akin to a steam train at full throttle! At the start of every year I feel that it's going to be a slow and cruisey ride, but somehow opportunities and deadlines manifest from nowhere and before you know it you are on the downhill slide to Christmas.  This is a perfect time to say thank you to all my loyal customers and friends who have supported me throughout the year at my market stalls, studio sales, exhibition openings and faithfully opened and read my Mailchimp newsletters and, of course, this blog. I hope you continue to enjoy the work I make for sales and exhibitions, because it is all made by my hands with love and passion.

What better way to have ended this year than with the World's Longest Screenprint!!! This was a world record attempt by Megalo for their 35th Birthday Celebration. It took place at 11.15am on Saturday 12th December in the Fitters Workshop at Kingston, but staff have been planning the event for months. In order to produce the world's longest screen print, a silkscreen frame and stencil had to be made the entire length of the Fitter's Workshop - yes! that's 35 metres!!! Teams of volunteers started at 7am in the morning to help move everything from Megalo into the Fitter's Workshop for the day.
Here you can see the sides of the frame on the floor with the hand-cut stencil lying
on top of the fabric beneath it. The stencil took the staff weeks of bonding over
sharp scalpels and craft knives.

A 35-metre paper stencil was designed to showcase the history of Megalo over the last 35 years - incorporating each different location and the services provided as well as other interesting facts. The paper was then cut by hand and joined to form the 35m stencil. A wooden frame was then erected over the top of the stencil and fabric underneath it.  Once in place, Megan and Jemima rolled out the 43T mesh over the top of the stencil, then teams of volunteers lined the sides to help lift the frame and staple the mesh to the screen as taut as possible.
Jemima and Megan roll out the mesh in preparation for attaching it to the screen frame.
This was a tricky procedure and it all fell into place beautifully because of the attention to detail in the construction and how to organise the many volunteers in a safe and supportive environment.  A lot of this work was done by the partners of Megan, Ingeborg and Jemima, who had us all working like clockwork to fulfil our tasks.
The mesh is stapled to the sides of the frame and temporary supports locked in place.
An ingenious system of supports were drilled into the screen sides every two metres so that the screen remained straight and true.  As the ink was squeegeed down the length of the frame by the rotating teams of printers, these were taken out and then replaced again to ensure the frame did not collapse. Myself and Yasmin Masri were support printers, just checking the print as it was printed and cleaning up any sloppy bits.  As you can imagine, to man a squeegee that is about a metre wide and print 35 metres of ink is an heroic task.I  don't have photos of the print process to hand - because I was too busy helping to use my camera! But several people did take videos of the whole procedure (can you believe it took less than 5 minutes??) so I may pop one up on the blog in the next post.
Here is the finished print - all 35 metres of it!
Once the whole screen had been printed, teams of volunteers and the general public descended on the frame and lifted it up to rest it against the workshop wall.  You can see in the photo above that the paper stencil has attached to the back of the screen by the viscosity of the ink.  The coloured design at the start of the print was done on the fabric beforehand. 
And here you have it !
Congratulations to all the staff at Megalo for including the print community and the general public in this momentous (and hopefully world-record) performance. We  LOVE MEGALO!!


SEE YOU IN 2016!!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Belconnen Christmas Market

What a crazy two weeks it's been with the lead up to Christmas.  It seems like there is a market on every weekend, and in fact there are more, with several markets on the same time all competing for public attention.  My first market at Undercurrent went really well - that was the first three-day market I had ever done -so thanks to all my loyal customers and friends who dropped by to say hi and to those who purchased some goodies for Christmas presents.

This Sunday it is my last market for the year, at the Belconnen Arts Centre.

I always love the ambiance of the Belconnen Art Centre markets, and they are so well organised and supported it makes doing business a pleasure! Hope to see you there if you didn't make it to any of my other sales over the past couple of weeks, and if I don't see you, have a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year with your friends and family. Best wishes for a creative and peaceful 2016. Julie xx

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Thanks to all my loyal friends and customers who visited my Open Studio last Sunday as part of DESIGN Canberra. It was a great day, perfect temperature, and I was run off my feet chatting and ringing that till! Luckily for me my friend Belinda Jessup popped in to deliver a coffee in the morning...and stayed to help behind the sales desk until 3pm.  Couldn't have done it without her!

This weekend I will be at Undercurrent Design Market at the National Portrait Gallery.  This is my debut at this market, but I have heard so many good things about it I thought I would give it a try.  However, as usual, my busy life intrudes.  I fly back from Melbourne on Friday just in time to set up my stall for the opening at 5pm. It should be a great weekend though, with so many other things happening as part of DESIGN Canberra.  Last night I attended the DesignBuzz talks which included Jessica Hemmings (I have written about her in previous posts) and Indigenous textile designer Lucy Simpson, who gave an inspiring talk about the influence that place has in design.

DESIGN Canberra will be finishing this coming weekend, so if you have the chance to attend some of the events, many of which are free, then go along! Canberra has definitely come of age and it's fantastic to see so many creative people living and working here. All kudos to Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre for initiating this wonderful festival.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

DESIGN Canberra

DESIGN Canberra is being launched tomorrow night at the National Portrait Gallery and will run from 21 - 29 November.  As part of Living Artists, Kirsty, Lisa and myself are opening up our studios to the public again, thanks to the successful event last year.  And for those of you who came last year in the sweltering heat....this Sunday should only reach a top of 25...perfect.

We have all been working hard delving into our archives and pulling out some amazing bargains for you as well as making new work for sale.  This Sunday is an opportunity to see our space, have a chat over a cold drink, and see some work that you would never get to see otherwise. See you there!
Sunday 22nd,  10-3pm, The Hayshed, 7 Beltana Road Pialligo
Please park on Beltana Road and walk in

Friday, 13 November 2015

here & there

Last Friday fellow Canberran, Sharon Peoples, and I were in Sydney for the opening of our group exhibition, Here & There, together with shibori-artist extraordinaire, Barbara Rogers, at her gallery, Barometer, in Paddington.

Barbara Rogers (left) talking to Jane Burns at the Here & There opening
Here & There responds to the concept of time and place - of being in one geographical location whilst making work about a distant other - about our experiences of dislocation and displacement as artists.

For me, this occurred during my 3-month Asialink residency at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia in 2013.  I was busy making work about Canberra for my exhibition Natural Wonders ( Narek Galleries in 2013in the heat and humidity of a tropical home-away-from-home. My thoughts about Canberra, in particular Pialligo and Aranda were more distilled and defined despite the thousands of kilometres between us. It seemed that distance enabled me to envision and articulate my thoughts on home with more clarity.
Seasonal Variations I-IV - Julie Ryder
For Sharon Peoples, her pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostella provided the inspiration for new work about walking and thinking, about slowing down to absorb the details of her immediate environment. This camino resulted in her solo exhibition Habitus ( Narek Galleries in 2014).  Sharon states that the word habitus can refer to 'second nature', and that for her embroidery is part of her identity - she embroiders every day. The repetitive and meditative nature of embroidery reflected her camino through Spain - in both walking and embroidering Sharon truly engaged her whole self.
Installation of Sharon People's work in Here &There
For Barbara Rogers, inspiration came from trips to Japan to investigate different methods of shibori. Over many years Barbara has experimented and refined her personal interpretation of carved board clamped resist shibori,  called itajime gasuri This technique results in an ikat-like patterning on woven cloth, however Roger's inspiration for this new body of work was found in Meisen silk kimono produced from the 1920's -1950's. Her modern interpretation is bold and graphic, which belies the complicated technique used to produce it.
Barbara Rogers' complex itajime gasuri
We were most fortunate to have Professor Jessica Hemmings officially open the exhibition. Jessica is in Australia for a short time to exhibit the Migrations exhibition (see previous post); to travel and speak in other institutions and to participate in DESIGN Canberra as part of Design Buzz as well as concentrating on writing...and running!
Jessica Hemmings (centre) with Barbara Rogers (L) and Sharon Peoples (R)
We thank her so much for her insightful comments during her opening speech and look forward to hearing her talk with indigenous designer, Lucy Simpson, as part of Design Buzz on 24th November.

Here & There continues until November 28th.
Opening Hours are 11 - 5pm,   Wednesday - Saturday

For those of you who can't make it to Sydney, we will be showing an extended version of Here & There at the Belconnen Arts Centre in April-May 2016

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Migrations @ COFA

Jacarandas in full bloom in Oxford St, Paddington....
I had a fleeting visit to Sydney this week to give a talk about my work and to attend the opening of the Migrations exhibition at COFA.  This exhibition has literally travelled the world - from Dublin, Bergen, Omaha, Miami, London, Cape Town and now Sydney. Curated by Professor Jessica Hemmings, editor of 'Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today', this exhibition evolves on each leg of the journey as Jessica packs selected pieces into her hand-luggage and wings her way across the globe, aptly illustrating her writings about the transportability of textiles.

Liz Williamson at the COFA seminar

It was great to catch up with Jessica again at the Seminar and to attend the opening of the Migrations exhibition. It was also wonderful to hear from Liz and students Blake Griffiths and Jennifer Goodwin about their experiences as interns in India.  In the foyer gallery Cultural Textiles : rug project was on display, with design work and some woven rugs by a recent trip to India by Liz Williamson and her students. This was part of the Cultural Textiles fieldwork course conducted in Gujarat in Jan/Feb 2015.
The student's designs were block printed in natural dyes by Sufiyan Khatri in his Ajarkh workshop in Ajarakhpur  in Kutch.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Colour+Print in Geelong

Garnet House at Geelong Grammar School - home away from home.

Straight from the GLINT residency to a residential workshop for TAFTA at Geelong, this has been one hectic month. This year at Textile Forum I taught 'Colour+Print' to ten students from all over Australia, at the Geelong Grammar School in Victoria. Most of the students were new to screen-printing and it was great to have two students in my class from last year's 'Printing with mordants and natural dyes' workshop, Rasa and Alison.

Anna hand-painting a beautiful floral piece with her test colours beside her
Pirjo building up delicately coloured and textured backgrounds for further work

During the week I shared my knowledge and demonstrated how to mix fabric paints to specific colours; how to develop an individual colour-palette for textile design; how to produce striking fabrics using low-tech methods and an introduction to printing with silk-screens. The ladies in the workshop had diverse textile backgrounds and experiences, and this course gave many of them the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and learn new skills which could be incorporated into their work in the future.

Final display of work in a mini-exhibition this morning
Tea towels and textile samples from the workshop
Kate, Pirjo, Anna and Alison in front of class work.

I have to say it was one of the most productive and also enjoyable workshops I have taught, in part due to the fantastic students but also to the immediate nature of screen-printing which opens up all sorts of possibilities for extending the knowledge of design and colour. Thanks to Kate, Pirjo, Libby, Pam, Helen and Vanessa, Marlene, Rasa and Anna...well done!

Monday, 28 September 2015

GLINT open studio talks

A few photos of the open studios at the Glassworks last Saturday. Here is Spike giving a talk about her work in GLINT. Unfortunately Deb and Nicci were overseas, George was in Adelaide and Luke was MIA, so there were just two of us to give a few insights into the residency as a whole. In the foreground is my work, showing my 'mega-slides' which captured everyone's attention.

Friday, 25 September 2015

GLINT Open Studio

Finally found time to sit down and post some photos of the last of our GLINT residency at the Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studios.  Also to invite you to the Open Studios tomorrow, Saturday 26th, 2pm in the Engine Room at the Glassworks.  A few of us will be talking about the residency and the works produced - Deb and Nicci are overseas and George is in Adelaide but their works and display and we will speak on their behalf.

So, as you can see, it has been quite a while between posts, which can only mean one thing in my experience....complete overload of making work and no time or energy left to sit on the computer. My apologies, but hopefully you will understand when you see how much work has been accomplished.

In my last post I left you with some tantalising images of work not yet sandblasted, a ready-made carafe and a small glass disc.  I exposed some images onto a photographic film and adhered them to the objects ready to take down to the sandblaster.  I was doubtful that the intricacy of the design would work but you can see here for yourself. The frosted parts are the sandblasted design on clear glass.
Sandblasted carafe with more icebergs in the distance
This very intricate design sandblasted well to my surprise
While we are on the subject of sandblasting, my digitally printed 'mega-slides' FINALLY arrived from the printers.  My project was to make some very large microscope slides as prototypes for new work.  This would give me an idea of how successful the digital printing looks onto a fully transparent medium, how my designs translate onto it and finally, what sandblasting would look like incorporated into the design.  So, here are a couple of 'slides' I had printed.  The plain background on the slide on the right is the one I aim to sandblast post-printing.
2 of the 6 slides I had digitally printed (75 x 25cm)
As a starting point for the design I used Dr Christine Cargill's SEM images of Phaeoceros spores, together with some artwork I made for textiles from the Generate exhibition about Charles Darwin. I chose these images to see how well the details reproduced and to get something very quickly to the printers....luckily, because they took 4 weeks to arrive back...not speedy enough when you've only got a 6 week residency, but at least now I know the timeline for getting glass printed. And below is the image that I have sandblasted carefully after the printing.  I think it looks fantastic and is definitely the way I will be pursuing the new work in the future.  
Mega-slide with sandblasted top and front
The concept was inspired by antique Victorian glass microscope slides, which were beautifully decorated with intricately designed papers. If you are in Canberra tomorrow, do come to see the slides in person, they are great (and I am not biased...haha!)

Apart from the digital printing and sandblasting, I was also inducted into the Cold-working area to enable me to finish off my pieces once they had been cast, blown or fused.  I had a mentor, Peter Nilsson, who is a terrific teacher and has a keen eye for scratches, irregularities and symmetry.  His work is also fantastic, so intricate and imaginative with enormous attention to detail.  You can see his work here - he is a specialist in engraving and coldworking.

Grinding the edges of one of my icebergs under Peter's watchful eye!
You must develop strong thighs from all the squatting...
I was also industrious in the mould room with Spike in the last week of GLINT, frantically trying to get as many of my projects realised as possible...just another case of too many ideas paired with the excitement of working in a new medium.  So once I had a full fleet of icebergs ... actually I am not sure what the collective of icebergs is...and quickly looking on Wikipedia it is either a crush or a drift.....neither of which aptly describe my majestic crystal blobs. As I was saying, I started the other casting project I was looking forward to and that was lost wax casting some seed pods I had made years ago with Geoff Farquhar in a silicon mould-making course.
The wax seed pods are prepared for casting.
They are covered in about 4 layers of plaster silica and a final layer of PSG

Once the mould is made around the wax forms, the moulds are taken to the kiln and placed upright so that the wax melts out of the cavity overnight and you are just left with the plaster mould. The mould is now ready to go into the casting kiln.  Crystal is weighed out for the total volume needed for all four seeds, but because each opening is small, and the crystal pieces are large, we put all the glass into a terracotta flowerpot so that the glass melts and runs down the hole and into each of the 4 openings for the seeds.
Two moulds of 4 seeds each, one with aqua crystal, the other clear.
So on the final day of GLINT I picked up my cast seeds ( it took 5 days in the kiln.....) and I have been so busy I have not even had time to divest them yet!! so if you are coming to the opening tomorrow I may just have done them....

OK this is a long post, but bear with me because it is about 4 weeks worth! The final images I want to share with you are some finished pieces that involve the glass printing, fusing and slumping to make some cute plates bowls and maybe even wall plaques.

Eucalyptus buds design printed in two colours on 2 glass sheets then fused together and slumped

Very fine 2mm glass printed and later slumped into a cute bowl

Two 2mm discs printed with "woodgrain" design 
So, that wraps it up for the GLINT residency, but I haven't finished my work at the CGW just yet!! Lots of cold-working and sandblasting to do, and lots more ideas to work through.  A few of us are keen to get our steps to induction in a few other areas, so we will be in and out of the Glassworks for some time to come. Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CICF for enabling me to fully enjoy the GLINT residency and to try out new materials and techniques - and thanks also to the Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studios for organising such a wonderful project.
Last of all, but not all my fellow guys ROCK! Hope we catch up in the future and perhaps there will be a group exhibition further down the track.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Full Steam Ahead

We have all managed to cram so much into the last week, I have only just managed to have a rare early night to sit down and write this post. In addition, late nights seven days a week has left the GLINTies open to all manner of colds and flu, so that has also taken its toll of a few of us and zapped what remaining energy we had left!

One of the really interesting techniques we learnt last week was powder printing onto glass with Ruth Oliphant, who was mentioned in my post last week.  Check out her impressive work here.  Although Ruth is not formally part of the GLINT project, she has been incredibly informative and supportive to us all, and so it was a great opportunity to test out printing onto both float and Bullseye glass with  different glass powders.

Ruth Oliphant showing an example of glass powder printing at CGW.
Ruth's work often features images of buildings and architecture, "exploring the use of layers, bringing them together to create more complex landscapes and cityscapes".  The photo below shows her silk-screen with an image of a building on the photographic stencil, through which she will print the glass powders.
Photo of a building exposed onto a photographic silk screen ready for printing.
Ruth showed us the best techniques to get professional results, along with WHS information about using fine glass powders. She was also very generous with showing us her firing samples and sharing her powders especially for float glass, which were sourced overseas.
One of the printed powder tests, two screens, two colours, plus a lighter overlay

And here Ruth has played around with multiple printings for a layered look.
Over the last two weeks I have been teaching Deb, George and Spike how to prepare their silk screens for textile printing, so we all had our own screens to experiment with and we were kept busy for the rest of the afternoon.
My printed samples waiting to be fired in the kiln
I played around with both Bullseye glass and powders and float glass and powders using one and two colour applications.  The work was fired overnight and the next day we were able to view our handiwork.
And here they are! Some of you may recognise my tea-towel designs now on glass.
I was impressed with the definition and possibilities now available with future experimentation so I am now eagerly awaiting my delivery of Bullseye glass powders from Bluedog in Melbourne.
Here is a close-up of the printed float glass tests I did with Ruth's powder.
During the week I also managed to get around to finishing off my icebergs that I had cast in Blackwood  crystal, my using the  engraving tools to shear off the sharp edges on the base.

My first two icebergs sitting on a piece of grey crystal loaned by Spike
I loved these icebergs (the ipad photography does not do them justice) and so I set about making 5 more in the mould room the next day.
Ha clay icebergs under wraps until  I get around to making the moulds around them
So, whilst that process was ticking over, I finally got to expose a couple of designs to the Rayzist photosensitive film to make a photo-stencil for sandblasting.  This film is made by Problast and there are a few Youtube videos you can watch about the process. Spike has been using this process a lot for work for her exhibition, Selkie Stories,which opens tomorrow night at M16!!

Rayzist is a very familiar process for most screen printers, so I quickly exposed some of the film and set about cutting it up to shape around an old glass decanter that was destined for the op shop.....
The Rayzist protective film is blue, the transparent areas will be sandblasted
Obviously, the sheet of Rayzist is flat but in order to form it around a curved object I had to cut it up and re-place it carefully around the decanter, then patch the missing areas with more Rayzist or electrical tape.  On the top of the decanter I taped the rim with electrical tape and then cut into it with a sharp scalpel to form a design.  I will show the finished work in my next post.

Deb also gave us some insight into how she produces her slumped works so evocative of Antarctic waters or skies.  First of all she makes all her glass rods in the hot shop, then lays them out in the kiln before firing them, which can take days due to the amount of glass in each panel.
Debra Jurss preparing some of her wonderful glass panels at CGW
Debra Jurss - evocative of the Antarctic landscape. Photo courtesy Debra Jurss
Debra has been to Antarctica (twice!) so I am jealous as all hell. So there is a bit of an icy theme running through us GLINTies....Debra's landscapes, Spike's selkie stories, my icebergs inspired by my Gullkistan residency....and George's new ice-cream dishes and spoons decorated with sprinkles.

George Agius "Sprinkles Glasses" with spoon....delicious with ice-cream.....
And yet there is more excitement this week...! George booked a slot in the hot shop for Nicci, Luke and I to actually try our hand at blowing is so much harder and hotter than it looks (and quite a bit scarier too....). The last few photos for this week show George teaching how to gather glass from the furnace, shape it and blow it into various UFO's which will no doubt become treasured garden ornaments...or paperweights....or.....
George heating her glass in the glory hole

After shaping my glass its time to "jack-off"! The glass is then taken over to the annealing kilns.

Luke flies solo shaping his UFO....
This week has been far too much fun and lots of hard work, so stay tuned to find out how things have cooked in the kiln next week.