Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Happy New Year!

(Oil rig, Qatar; Iraqi tank graveyard; trees amongst karst pillars in Madagascar.)
As another year ends, so does another sample diary. This is something I’ve done for four years now – I get a large diary with a picture per week and then each week I make a little textile sample inspired by the picture and stick it in. They don’t all work, but it makes a lovely bulgy book to look back through.

(Indian marble quarry; boats in Nile clogged with water hyacinths.)

I started with a cheap leftover Rothko diary – quite a challenge. The following year it was Van Gogh – more variety. Painters worked well, plus I must surely have learned a bit about their art along the way? Then I did an Earth From the Air diary of aerial photos, which was much more difficult at first, but in the end I loved it so much I went on to do another one this year.

I don’t do this for anyone else to see, but I’ve scanned a few examples here just to show what I’m on about. And maybe spread the idea?

(Shadows of camel caravan, Niger desert; the Eye of the Maldives.)

I don’t want to copy the pictures – all I aim for is a little sample inspired or suggested by the picture (or sometimes the accompanying words), using whatever I’ve got to hand. For me it’s a valuable exercise in quickly responding, completing and moving on – not endlessly reworking in search of perfection. But it could work with any rules or none, depending on what you need or want to achieve.

It’s also a great chance to have fun with techniques and materials I don’t use much in my everyday work. So as well as machine embroidery, there’s hand stitching, embellisher, appliqué, etc.

(Autumn trees, Quebec; Sao Paulo apartment windows; dugout canoes in Mali.)

The big problem now is, I can’t find any diary that appeals for 2011. But I can't stop, this is addictive. Going to have to do something radical. I’ve decided to take a picture from the newspaper each week instead… hmm, could be a challenge too far?!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

How's that for Christmassy - one of our photos from Antarctica in 2009.
Wishing everyone a lovely relaxing break, whatever you're doing.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wharfedale Winter Wonderland

Barely an inch of the white stuff, but our view up Wharfedale is magically transformed.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Knitting and Stitching Show

Nothing stops me getting to this show in Harrogate - though the weather had a pretty good try yesterday. I did think about turning round as the world turned white, but reckoned it wouldn't last and luckily I was right. It's mad having the most northerly K&S show at the wintriest time, this is the handiest one for most of the UK yet they leave it til late November when it's either freezing or foggy if not snowing. I bet visitor numbers are down this year, I feel sorry for all the stitchers from Scotland and the NE who won't manage it.

Enjoyed it as usual... well maybe not quite as much as I used to, but after ooh, 18 years or so it's not surprising if it gets a bit samey? One day didn't used to be enough but this time I didn't need to linger long.

I always ask myself, which piece would I take home, if money and space were no object? This time I think one of Clyde Olliver's hand stitched slate "Strip" pieces. Like a curvy spine comprised of graduated slates with simple zigzag hand stitches up the centre. Two of my favourite things, embroidery and geology, combined - irresistible.

In the Graduate Showcase, it was Brenda Parsons' "paper lace" that stood out for me. Handmade paper, machine stitched then washed so it disintegrated into a delicate holey fabric. No colour, just the purity of the creamy paper, in small 3D corsage/sculptural forms as well as huge floaty hangings.
One thing that really struck me was how many of the artists used frames without glass, and often raised the work off the background with hidden blocks underneath. It always seems a shame to shut textiles behind glass, but in my experience most buyers seem to prefer them protected?

As for shopping, it's always the same - so much temptation, gorgeous materials and essentials I can't buy locally, but it's NEXT week I'll realise what I really should have bought. I did get some lovely space dyed perle threads (to use on the machine bobbin), wool roving and bamboo fibres (for the embellisher), things that are hard to choose by mail order. And the new "Stitchscapes" book by Beaney and Littlejohn - packed with gorgeous big colour photos, plus techniques and sizes (yay!) for each piece so you can really understand them.

Overall I'd say inspiring, but not awe-inspiring. Fired up to get on with my own work... until I get stuck for something absolutely vital I could've got so easily at the show!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Stocking up

The online shops that is, not my Christmas stocking - not quite yet.

Spent some time photographing and uploading art and jewellery and bowls to Etsy and Folksy. And it did pay off, as I made two sales this weekend! But I really don't enjoy the photography bit, so hard to get true colours especially with it being so shady here on the north facing valley side. My problems may be over though, as I finally gave in and bought a photo lighting set from here. We've been trying it out this weekend and it's unbelievable value, really good quality. Only trouble is it's still me behind the camera and I'd still rather be stitching...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Exhibitions, exhibitions, exhibitions!

Not as much to blog about as I hoped recently - I managed (only just) a stint stewarding at Contemporary Craven Christmas in Skipton, and then succumbed to a nasty bug and missed the opening of Textilia's third exhibition this year at the Signature Gallery in Kendal. I did make it to the opening of the Platform Gallery's Christmas show, "Kaleidoscope", in Clitheroe yesterday though - and that's well worth seeing. I've got five "shadow play" pieces in there, and some little ones in the shop area as well. Shoal (above) sold quickly, but I'm making another - might even try gold fish (!) this time for a change?
Temptations at Platform include James Lethbridge's gorgeous clear glass sculptural forms (below) and wooden automata by Susan R Evans (I think) - one incredibly detailed one in natural shades of wood was a woman scuba diving, hair floating out around her. When you turn the handle the diver, seaweed fronds and fishes all move around. Reminded me of Kate Humble! Extra little creatures, octopus, jelly fish etc amongst the workings. I don't usually go for automata, but this was great fun, sorry I can't find any photos.

Monday, 25 October 2010


A rare trip to Manchester yesterday, for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair - an Origin for the north (in need of an equally snappy name?).
It's definitely getting more comparable with Origin, in size as well as quality, which is fantastic for those of use who live far from London and/or hate going there. Only complaint - the catering was unexpectedly dire, having been fine last year. No lunch for us veggies. Mind you Origin in Spitalfields wasn't good on that score either.

Too much lovely stuff to mention, but the pic above shows something new to me - Catherine Carr's crocheted glass bowl. Yes, she actually crochets glass fibre, then skillfully fuses and shapes it in a kiln.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Three out of Three

Last batch of work for Christmas exhibitions delivered yesterday, for "Kaleidoscope" at the Platform Gallery (Clitheroe, Lancs.). This time it's all framed pieces, continuing my fascination for multiple small shape floating above the background to cast shadows. The pic below shows a close up of my favourite new design - a mass of tiny butterflies hand cut from an old plant catalogue. More pics on my website in the Shadow Play gallery.
This week also saw the opening of the Craven Contemporary Christmas exhibition in Skipton, with a packed private view on Wednesday evening. This is a different one for me as it includes paintings as well as so-called "crafts" such as textiles, jewellery and ceramics. Hmmm... they're all art and they're all craft to me, any distinction seems false. Looking forward to having plenty of time for a close look when I do my stints on the stewarding rota.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Two down, one to go

Yesterday I delivered a box of goodies for the Contemporary Craven Christmas exhibition, which opens next week in Skipton. Is anyone really thinking about Christmas shopping in the middle of October?!
Lots of felted crochet corsages and necklaces (all new designs – must get some in my shops too), embossed velvet brooches, and a few mini soluble lace bowls. Struggling to get any photos though, the light here is awful – it’ll be a bit brighter when all the trees lose their leaves, but that’s not something I really want to hurry up.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Here we go again

Another deadline met! To twist a neat line I heard somewhere, I really DON’T like the swooshing noise deadlines make as they fly past – I’ll do anything I can to avoid hearing that. Usually that means being realistic about what can be done in the time, and not leaving everything til the last minute – you never know what’ll crop up to get in the way. Easier said than done, of course…
It’s the third Textilia III exhibition of this year, not opening til the end of the month but hand in day is tomorrow.

Unfortunately we’ve lost a few members recently, some at rather short notice wrt this exhibition – can’t be helped, people’s priorities change, but it does make everything harder for the rest of us. On the plus side though - more wall space each!

The pics show some of the work I’m submitting – don’t know how much of it will get hung, that depends how much we end up with altogether. There’s lots of 3D/gifty stuff too, but I haven’t got photos of all that yet.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


If you haven't heard, Origin is the UK Crafts Council's annual London craft fair. Mainly UK makers but also some from other countries. We live 200 miles away and loathe going to London but we've been making the trip for, ooh, 20 years? Something like that. Another different venue this year, Old Spitalfields Market, and best of all - we only had to go once to see everything! It's always been split over two weeks before, which is a total pain when it takes so much longer to get there than to go round the show.

There's never all that much embroidery, but I enjoy all the other crafts - especially non-precious jewellery, felt, glass, ceramics and paper. I'd seen a lot of the makers before, but it's still great to see their latest work. Old favourites? Linda Miller's pictures always so bright and happy, Rachel Gornall's patterns of cut out circles and hand stitch on hand dyed, layered organzas, Jane Adam's dyed and etched aluminium jewellery, Sarah Morpeth's intricate cut paper booklets, Jeung-Hwa Park's felted scarves with amazing "bubbles" of woven fabric, Debbie Smyth's thread/pin paintings of pylons and shopping trollies, James Lethbridge sculptural glass like plankton, Sarah Morpeth's paper cuts .... the list goes on and on, it's just heaven.


New favourites this year included Clare Brewster's detailed birds cut from maps, especially pieces using whole maps; Joanne Tinker's frames full of hundreds of tiny goblets or domes made from chocolate foils (bet she's popular when she's making new work!), Wycliffe Stutchbury's wall pieces made of tiny shingles of reclaimed wood (very textiley). And too many more to mention - got my own deadlines to worry about!


I was very good, didn't buy much at all - just a couple of Sarah Morpeth's booklets, a mini bowl by Timea Sideo, and a gorgeous purple bubbly felt scarf by Jeung-Hwa park that I'm not going to see again til christmas! No (affordable) jewellery quite hit the spot - Michael Berg's stunning kinetic rings will have to wait til the lottery numbers come up! But it's a real treat for the senses, and so inspiring to see and talk to all these talented, original makers. Definitely a highlight of my year.

Find links to all the exhibitors on the Origin site.

Looking, not doing

Taken time out from my own productions this last week to enjoy other people's. First there was David Nash at Yorkshire Sculpture Park - monumental sculptures in wood.

The scale of this work is breathtaking, and I love the way he works with rather than against the wood, exploiting its natural character and allowing it to crack and change colour as it ages. A vast book form in charred beech and rusted steel was one of my favourites, also the many huge totem-like columns decorated with clever patterns of cuts, and domes comprising lots of little stumps like crowds of people. A wooden "boulder" had been pushed into a stream and filmed from time to time as it travelled to the sea over 25 years - looking so rocky when still, it was strange to then see it floating off!

Then a trip round the Yorkshire Dales included a peek at real Wensleydale cheese being made. Back breaking work . Of course samples had to be brought home, it'd be rude not to wouldn't it? Delicious.

All sorts of variations these days...not sure where mango and papaya grow in these parts though.
But Saturday was the highlight - the annual trip to London for Origin. This is going to get a bit long - I'll do a separate post.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Out and About

Took a few more of these to the Platform Gallery this week. The current exhibition there is Precious, all work "produced from objects which have had a previous life" - in a word, recycling. I really loved Pamela Schilderman's 'Punctum' - vast drifts of punched paper circles (the tiny ones from an ordinary paper punch), strung on monofilament. Just my sort of thing, in fact I have tried (of course I have, gg) stitching those little circles myself, but even I haven't got the patience to take it as far as Pamela has. Wonderful.

And yesterday it was Art in the Pen at Skipton, an art and craft fair in a cattle market (yes it does smell, a bit). Strangely there was a panel discussion about the merits of art fairs in the afternoon, featuring Michael Brennand Wood with a London art critic and a Manchester art fair organiser. Interesting stuff, but they were from a different world - Origin, Collect and Frieze haven't much in common with Art in the Pen. For me this fair doesn't quite work - there's no atmosphere (maybe because it's too small for the building?) and no selection, so standards are variable.

In my own studio the experiments continue - mini thread bowls, felted crochet corsages and new ideas for shadow play pieces. I ordered (and received) a batch of custom box frames too, so I've no excuses for not getting on with those pieces now!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Differing Viewpoints

The new Textilia III exhibition opened yesterday in Halifax (details on the website). We had a lovely opening, thanks to Karen Lewis and Joan Tillotson of Calderdale MBC, as well as Rachel, Jane and Margaret of Textilia III who did all the hard work. All I had to do this time was hand over my work - four framed pieces and five little bowls, all on my Antarctic theme. I took a few pics for the group website but they're not great as there were a lot of reflections.

Apart from that I'm still putting together ideas for the christmas shows. Inspired by a custom request on Etsy (thanks Nia!) I made a batch of embossed velvet brooches. And remembered how much I love those - when they work that is, lots don't get past quality control! I think they'll be great for one of the shows.

Still on textile jewellery (something of an obsession), I'm also designing new felted crochet corsages and possibly necklaces too. A lot of trial and error here - I made some real horrors! But maybe some promising ones as well? We'll see.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Happy Yorkshire Day!

I can never remember why it's 1st August, but I'm happy to celebrate Yorkshire any day. And where better than where we live - On Ilkla Moor (b'aht 'at)! Well almost - just below the actual moor.

Today my new website went live - it's now on both and - I've got the annehoneyman addresses all "sewn up" (groan).

Stitch-wise, I've been experimenting with new shapes and new materials for my "shadow play" (see website!) series. Nothing quite ready to take forward yet - let's just say I'm narrowing down the possibilities :-(

I've also thrown out, yes THROWN OUT, lots of my old embroidered art from pre-City and Guilds days. Well it was never going to see the light of day again, no point having it stuck in a cupboard - and I really really need the space. To make it easier to let them go, I took photos of the pieces I quite liked, and even cut (!) pieces from some of them too. Then I stuck/stitched these onto postcards to add to my shoe-box collection of samples. Nice to have little reminders. Any spare samples that don't belong anywhere else get added to the box (box 3 now, in fact) and it makes a great resource to flick through for inspiration... or just to see how I got here!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Webbed Feat (sorry...)

A whole week without anything stitchy at all! But my new website is almost complete. Just one set of images left to add.

I've gone for a simple, subtle grey theme - the pic above (from one of my 'Flock' pieces) is my banner. My links collection is bigger than ever, with lots more textile artists and suppliers added - only ones I personally find interesting or useful in some way, I don't swap links. Really useful for me, and hopefully for other textiley people too.

IF I'm feeling brave this coming week I'll redirect my main URL ( to the new site, but if you want a preview just click here:

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Christmas is coming!

Not a lot of actual stitching this week I'm afraid. But I have been planning what I need to make next, and realising it's time to focus on christmas exhibitions. Less than three months before I have to deliver. Aargh, where has the time gone?

Also writing up the Antarctica pieces I finished last week. I know it sounds really boring (well, that's because it is) but I always keep notes of materials, techniques, measurements etc., plus reasons for my choices and ideas for the future. It'd be much more tedious to have to re-invent the wheel over and over again - saves a lot of time when I want to do something similar. Was it Lutradur 70 or 100, how did I finally manage to transfer the design? It's all there, along with photos and samples.

More exciting, I've been creating a new website to replace my tired old one. Not quite ready yet, but I'm really pleased with how quickly and easily it's coming together.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


Yesss!!! BIG tick - handed in all my work for the Textilia III exhibition yesterday. The show's called "Differing Viewpoints", and it's at the Piece Hall in Halifax from 7th August (details on Textilia III website).

I made four framed pieces, Antarctica-inspired but not literal, in a limited palette of white and blue; I hope they look like a coherent body of work. They're all "extreme machine embroidery", using smashed china, plastic, wire and soluble fabric (yes my Bernina hates me). I'm not going to show them properly until the exhibition's up, but here's a taster:

I also made five little "Ice Melt" thread bowls:

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Orkney v. Antarctica

Skara Brae

The other week I was in Orkney, and I've been going through the photos again - so much inspiration for textile art! The stunning Neolithic monuments of Skara Brae, Maeshowe, Stenness and Brodgar - places I've always wanted to see that definitely didn't disappoint. And the fascinating geology exposed along the coast, such as Yesnaby's subtly patterned rocks laid down in Lake Orcadie some 400my ago.

But... no time for that just now, as I've still got work to finish for the next Textilia III exhibition and it's due in next week. This is continuing my Antarctica theme - something I'm finding really difficult. The expedition to Antarctica last year was absolutely wonderful, but it's left me feeling a bit frustrated and inadequate. I'm burning to highlight both the beauty and the environmental issues of that incredible continent, but finding it impossible to do it justice. I have made quite a few pieces, but I'm only scratching the surface - hopefully something more powerful will emerge eventually?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

If you can't beat them...

Hello Blogosphere! Here I am at last. Not a natural blogger, I've resisted as long as possible, preferring chat groups to solo spots. But the time has come... or quite possibly, it's passed and blogging will die out from the day I finally join in.

Why now? Well like anyone working at home alone, I'm constantly fighting distraction and procrastination. I've realised (a bit late, I know) an online diary might help by prodding me to achieve more, just to have something to write about and pictures to show. It's also a way of making my work more visible - for constructive feedback, and maybe more exhibiting and selling opportunities.

There, I've done it. The first baby step. Watch this space!