Monday, August 15, 2005


Dame M had summonsed us to appear at her artistic embroidery exhibition at Como House yesterday. She has a small part in a video that is part of the exhibit. We saw her hands working the embroidery machine. She gave us a live demo later at her home. She and had a lot to do with the costuming of tv programs, films, opera and theatre in the eighties and nineties and can name drop her customers at ease. She still has rooms full of sewing machines..... embroiderers, overlockers, stitchers, etc etc. It is not something I know about. Thanks to a six year apprenticeship, she is one of only two people in Australia who can confidently work and is aware of the capabilities of this non computerised embroidery machine.

The machine is quite fascinating to watch. It has be used at quite a high speed, one foot controls the power, one hand sits on the fabric which sits over paper and the other hand steers the machine from underneath. I could not believe the speed at which it works, but if you slow down, it will start missing.

It was amusing to watch her convincing the person on the door at Como House that we five guys and one girl, all over 40, were all her children. It worked. But as she is 80 it was feasible. She got us in on her family pass. "C'mon Mum, hurry up, and stop stuffing around," one of us called out.

The exhibition was quite interesting and it was nice to have a look through Como House again, as I have not been there for twenty years. Dame M got told off by one of the attendants for sitting on a couch. I won't say anything about the volunteer attendants as they volunteer their time and are very knowledgeable but.......

I asked Dame M how she used to work out a price in advance, expecting an answer along the lines of working out how long it would take and have a vague hourly rate in her head. Nope, she used to peek out the window, check what sort of car they had, think of a figure and double it. After some publicity in the eighties, she had to start refusing work. She could not fit anymore workers in her lounge room. She said the money just rolled in, not that she knows where it went.

We went back to her abode, whacked on the heating, had drinkies and she served lasagne followed by bread and butter pudding. A very pleasant afternoon with friends.

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