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Meet Marion Manson, Fiber Artist

Marion Manson

Marion Manson

If you’ve been following my New Zealand blog posts, you’ve seen the images of Marion Manson  collecting leaves.   Marion and I became friends back in the early 1990s when she ordered a pattern from me.  It was the very first time that anyone from overseas had ordered a pattern from me.  I was so thrilled that I wrote to her and then she wrote back.  We became pen pals.  And, it was Marion, one of the conveners of the 1997 New Zealand Quilt Symposium, who made it possible for me to teach in my very first overseas venue.  We have remained friends throughout the years and I love to visit her, and husband Kerry each time I return to New Zealand.

Marion's Leaves

Marion’s Leaves

In recent years, Marion’s passion for quilting has evolved into creating her own textiles, using natural dyes and tannins from the foliage of different plants.  Her back yard and garage are full of various pots with bundles of fiber carefully wrapped around different types of leaves, each of which creates different colors and shapes on her fabrics.

Marion's Shawl

Marion’s Shawl

She had an exhibit of her works at a gallery in Hamilton during my visit where I was able to see many of her beautiful designs, both garments like the shawl above, and wall hangings.

Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

I love the delicate fibers and subtle texture in her layered works.

Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

All of the textiles in Marion’s work are created by natural dyes obtained from plants.  The dark color in this piece is particularly dramatic.

Large Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

Large Wall Hanging by Marion Manson

In this larger, sampler piece, the various techniques that she uses are evident.  I hope that she has another exhibit when our tour visits Hamilton in April 2014 so others can also see her works.  Thanks Marion, for being my New Zealand BFF!

 

 

 

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A Little Wildlife

Pukeko

Pukeko

Wildlife and watching wildlife remains one of my passions.  I clearly remember my very first sighting of a Pukeko, the iconic New Zealand bird.  On this trip, I hadn’t seen any Pukekos and was concerned about where they go in the winter months.  After all, it is a relatively small island!  Then, when we were taking our morning constitutional walk around the lake near her home, there they were!  In fact, they were everywhere, wandering around on the maincured lawns and foraging among the reeds!  Yay!  The trip would have been lacking had I not had another Pukeko interaction to take home with me!

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Shibori by Jean Carbon

Shibori Silk Skirt

Shibori Silk Skirt

While Jean’s scarves were stunning, her large pieces were unbelievable.  This turquoise and black silk wrap is just one of the pieces that Jean creates using ancient shibori techniques.

Jean's Work Area

Jean’s Work Area

Jean took us back into her dye studio and talked to us about her techniques.  She not only works in silks, but also in other textiles.

Ikat Style Dying

Ikat Style Dyed Cottons and Linens

Above is a sample of other types of dying techniques that Jean uses.  These are often made into garments and also a more rustic style of scarf.

Silk Shibori in Red and Black

Silk Shibori in Red and Black

Each piece is a work of art.

Silk Shibori in White and Black

Silk Shibori in White and Black

Although I’ve only shown images of Jean’s silk work, she also creates garments in velvets and other techniques.  This will be an unforgettable stop on our tour next April.  I know that you will enjoy her work and her studio as much as I did.

 

 

 

 

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Raglan on the Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea - As Viewed from Jean Carbon's Studio

Tasman Sea – As Viewed from Jean Carbon’s Studio

Next, Marion and I headed south and west from Hamilton to the small art community of Raglan, located on the western edge of North Island on the Tasman Sea.  Our destination was the studio of Jean Carbon.  Jean is a popular artist who sells her shibori creations in boutiques throughout the country and this is the view from her studio.

Bronze in Shibori

Bronze in Shibori

I first saw Jean’s work in a little shop in Queenstown on South Island.  I marveled at the rich colors of the tightly folded scarves in the shop. The scarves virtually radiated saturated color.  Oh, how I wanted to take one home with me.  But here in New Mexico, my home, folks just don’t wear scarves.  Dang!

Jean says that fiber is her passion!  Her work includes sumptuous silks that are hand-dyed using ancient techniques to create garments and wraps that are timeless, elegant and totally original!

Looking at Jean's Scarves

Looking at Jean’s Scarves

Here, you can see how tightly rolled each scarf is, with only a small hint of the wonder that lies within.  Watch as it unfolds.

The Blue and Purple Scarf

The Blue and Purple Scarf

Simply amazing!  The model is the French girlfriend of Jean’s son, possibly a young woman born to be a model.

The Pink Scarf

The Pink Scarf

The shibori design unfolds as the scarf is opened.

Draping

Draping

When draped around the neck, the colors virtually radiate, nicely framing the face.  Jean’s Studio will be one of the stops on the Quilting and Textile Tour of New Zealand next April.

Stay tuned for more of Jean’s work in the next post.

 

 

 

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Welcome to Donna’s Quilt Studio

Donna's Quilt Studio

Donna’s Quilt Studio

Back in Hamilton, Marion and I made a quick stop at Donna’s Quilt Studio!   This is where we will be taking a 1/2 day class during my upcoming Quilting and Textile Tour of New Zealand.

Donna and Ashley

Donna and Ashleigh

Owned by award winning quiltmaker, Donna Ward and her daughter Ashleigh, a visit to these old friends was a treat in so many ways.  Above, Donna and Ashleigh show off the quilt they are raffling. The proceeds will go to help offset the costs of long-term rehabilitation for Libby Lehman, who suffered a stroke in April 2013.

Kiwiana Fabric

Kiwiana Fabric

I asked Donna to show off some of the Kiwiana fabric that she sells.  This fabric line features all the wonders of New Zealand in fiber, so that you can extend your memories of this great island nation.

Learn to Count

Learn to Count

There is even a panel that can be made into a Learn To Count soft book for young children.

Fantails - A New Zealand endemic

Fantails – A New Zealand endemic

The Kiwiana line of fabrics includes a wide array of designs from traditional Maori symbols to native birds.

Ashleigh, Donna, Yours truly and Merle

Ashleigh, Donna, Yours truly and Merle

Donna’s Quilt Studio is a family affair with Donna at the lead, daughter Ashleigh, and Merle, her mom!  I cannot wait to visit again in April 2014 with some of you and I can’t wait to see what Donna has in mind for our class!

Classic Car Museum

Classic Car Museum

And, for the men who will be on our tour and possibly not interested in a quilting class, the Classic Car Museum is right next door!

Car Art

Car Art

The vehicles range from this artistic alteration of a classic to the dream cars that are indoors!  It’s the perfect way for a gent to spend the morning.  I hope many of you will join me on this tour!

 

 

 

 

 

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Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain

I first came to the mountain in November 2011 with friends from the United States.  My Kiwi friends, Kerry and Marion, joined us there for an evening of Kiwi spotting – the birds, not the people.  With  47kms of predator proof fence enclosing 3400 hectares in a sea of pastureland, it is the largest ecological island on mainland New Zealand.  It is, without doubt a must-see experience.  I could not wait to return!

Predator Proof Fence

Predator Proof Fence

So,

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Marion and I headed out long before the dawn.  Right about the time we began pulling our binoculars (bins) out, drops began to fall from the sky.  Not to worry though, Marion had six (yes, 6!) umbrellas in the back of her car!

Sunrise at Maunga

Sunrise at Maunga

It was a little eerie to walk in the darkened forest.  We could hear, but not see the birds as they awakened from their nightly slumber.  We climbed to the top of the observation tower in time to greet the rising sun.  There is nothing more magical than to be alone in the forest with only wild birds as your companions as the sun kisses the earth.

View from Maunga

View from Maunga

We didn’t see much in the dark and the rain, but the clouds lifted as we headed back down the hill for breakfast at Out in the Styx.  Upon our return an hour later, things were quite different.  This time, the only drops were those that fell from the wet vegetation that towered above us.

Tall Natives

Tall Natives

We walked toward the feeding area where we were thrilled to see a very large, and very red parrot!

Kaka - Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Kaka – Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Maunga staff feed the birds in this area once daily around 11 a.m.  And the Kaka, one of the native parrots of New Zealand, were waiting.

Stitchbird, or Hihi

Stitchbird, or Hihi.  Image by Charles Cummings 2011

We also had good looks, but not great photos, of the native Hihi, or Stitchbirds, that came to the nectar feeders.  Small and fast, it was only with extreme patience that my friend, Charles, managed to photograph this individual when we were there in November 2011.

In Maunga Forest

In Maunga Forest

In addition to the birds, just being in a primeval forest among the ancient trees can be a life-altering, almost religious experience.  My favorites were the giant silver ferns, the national symbol of New Zealand.

Fiddlehead frond

Fiddlehead frond

It is easy to understand the Koru symbol, so widely used in this beautiful country when one gazes upon the gently rounded, unfurling of the new fern fronds.  However, not all ferns seem to grow this way.

Baby Ferns

Baby Ferns

Some just seem to carry and nourish their newborns until they are large enough to survive in the cold, hard ground.

Marion's Maunga Leaves

Marion’s Maunga Leaves

Along the way, Marion continued to gather leaves for her dye pots.

Looking at Maunga

Looking at Maunga

As we walked out of the forest, our short visit at an end, the skies were brilliant and we could see Sanctuary Mountain in all its glory!  Sanctuary Mountain will be one of the stops on my New Zealand Tour in April 2014.  It is pure magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Out in the Styx

We pulled into the driveway of Out in the Styx with enough time to unpack for the night and relax with our host, Lance, over a glass of wine.

Maungatautari in the Fog

Maungatautari in the Fog

The clouds were hanging low over the mountain, threatening rain.  It also was getting dark so our visit to the mountain would have to wait until morning.  Lance regaled us with all the goings on over at Maunga, now called Sanctuary Mountain.  There was a new visitor center, new birds, and new trails.

Out in the Styx Cafe

Out in the Styx Cafe

While we remembered old times with Lance, and learned about more recent events, Mary was hard at work in the kitchen, preparing our dinner.  It was . . .

Out in the Styx Menu

Out in the Styx Menu

a delicious repast!

Next time you are anywhere near the Waikato countryside, stop in!  The food is impressive, the company entertaining, and the accommodations, right at the foot of Maungatautari Mountain very comfortable.  Be sure to call for reservations first!

Toes in the water

Toes in the Water

You will be glad you did!

 

 

 

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Ciao Taupo! Hello Out in the Styx!

Of course, my other favorite pastime is exploring back country byways.  Marion and I headed north in the general direction of Cambridge.

Off to the Wilds

Off to the Wilds

Along the way, Marion asked if I had ever walked on a swing bridge.  Upon my negative answer, she quickly turned the car in the direction of the Arapuni Swing Bridge.

Arapuni Swing Bridge

Arapuni Swing Bridge

The Arapuni Suspension Bridge is located just downstream from the Arapuni Power Station on the Waikato River in the South Waikato District of New Zealand. The 152-metre (499 ft) suspension bridge in the bush-lined gorge was built in the mid-1920s to allow workers from the village of Arapuni to access the power station construction site.

Arapuni Suspension Bridge

Arapuni Suspension Bridge

It’s long way down to the bottom of the gorge!  And, with every step, I could feel the bridge swaying. So, we did what any self-respecting tourist would do . . .

Marion poses on the swing bridge

Marion poses on the swing bridge

We took photographs!  First of each other on the bridge, and then . . .

View from Above

View from Above

and then, looking down at the giant silver ferns below!  It was impressive!  So impressive, that we stopped for tea right afterwards at the Rhubarb Cafe, a terrific local hangout! Soon we would be on the road again, heading for our stop for the night, Out in the Styx at the foot of Maungatautari Mountain, that incredible ecological preserve.

 

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