Friday, 27 July 2012


Or, flowers… but did that grab your attention?!


Hot off the Bernina – a batch of “Bloom” brooches, now launched in my Etsy and Folksy shops.

The design was inspired by alliums, and they did start off in suitable shades of purple, but the colours have branched out a bit now… there’s no limit really, I could do rainbow ones! Each flower head is made up of four layers, free machined on dissolvable fabric and put together to make a lacy, three-dimensional structure.  

I made the first few for Textilia’s recent exhibition at Farfield Mill, to tie in with one of my framed pieces, and they sold out. But for this new batch I’ve switched from stick pins to tiny brooch backs. They looked good on long metal “stalks”, but that effect was lost when they were pinned on clothing, and the stick pins were a bit thick anyway. These will work better on fine fabrics I think.

Only trouble is, they look HUGE in the photos in my shops – bigger than life size, of course they don’t seem as delicate and lacy as in real life. Hmm. There’s an awful lot to learn with this online shopping business.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sample Project 2012 - June

Running a little late, thanks to a sunny holiday (sorry!) – none of the stitching I took along was touched. But yes, I’ve kept this latest weekly sample project going for half a year now!



Week 23: Prickly alcyonarian coral

Machine embroidery using built-in pattern in ombre thread.







Week 24: Scarlet sea fan

Synthetic organza machine stitched over black cotton then burned away with a soldering iron.






Week 25: Blotched puffer fish

It was a ball of spines! Machine stitched on dissolvable fabric (shown against separate black background).






Week 26: Gorgonian coral

Red felt embellished onto pink, hand embroidery.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

NOT a sketchbook

I’m a very reluctant sketcher. To put it mildly. But I still wanted some little souvenir, “artistic response” (!) from my week on Mull. This is what emerged. It’s no great work of art, but it was fun and it’s full of memories for me.


Cover – decorated with broken bits of mussel shell stitched to torn paper.

The little Pink Pig book was one I already had, only about 4” square – not too intimidating? The pages were easily removed to play with. And I took minimal basic materials with me, like a few Neocolour watercolour crayons, needle and threads, knife, pen, pencil and brush.

Then through the week I collected bits here and there and set off a few experiments. As the weather was so good (sorry!) we were out all the time, so not everything got finished before I left - I’ve had to add the finishing touches back home.

So, these are all the pages I ended up with.


Title – cut from newspaper.

Ripples – beach sand mixed with PVA, paper stencil.

Diving gannets – paper cut, after seeing the Sarah Morpeth exhibition. Even more respect for her work after this, ouch!


Columnar basalt cliffs – stitch.

Rust stains – found metal with tea.

Marram grass – pen.

MullBook3Felt – found wool loosely wet felted and stitched.

Oak leaves – pencil off the edges of fresh green leaves.

Weave – split flag iris leaves woven into slits in the page.


Ring of bright water (otter!) – indented, pencilled over.

Foxgloves – wet brushed Neocolour, fine pen.

Beach markings – tea stain, burned stick.

MullBook5Stone sculpture – pierced holes.

Birch leaves – fresh leaves printed with Neocolour.

I even made a dangle for the spine from holey shells and found string, but no, it wasn’t me… well none of this is really, I’m a dedicated machine embroiderer, but hey, you’ve got to try something different on holiday, haven’t you?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Away from it all

Look, blue sky! Just back from a week on the lovely Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, and believe it or not the weather was great. After paddling in the beautiful clear water at this beach, amongst amazing shoals of tiny sand eels and all sorts of other fascinating sea creatures, we had to go in search of emergency ice cream!

It’s a fantastic place for wildlife. We saw the white tailed sea eagles on their nest (with chicks) at the RSPB EagleWatch, red deer and feral goats on the hills, too many different birds to mention. Our croft was home to dozens of wild rabbits, lots of them black. Best of all, we watched otters every night close to our (very remote) cottage, both swimming/hunting and on the shore.
MullOtterNot having the skill, patience or equipment of a Simon King, this is the only photo we attempted – it’s nicer to just enjoy the moment really.

I was also unexpectedly lucky on the arty side. At Calgary Art in Nature there was a walk through woodland scattered with sculptures that really suited their setting.MullDeerAs you can see on the website, there’s a huge variety of pieces all made with natural materials – mostly by very skilled artists, but also a few quite simple ideas that I’m wondering about adapting for our garden.

But the best stroke of luck was being on Mull at just the right time to catch a new exhibition by Sarah Morpeth, at the An Tobar arts centre. I’d been feeling sorry to just miss Deirdre Nelson’s Bird Yarns, and only found out a couple of days before we set off that this exhibition opened the day we arrived.   Morpeth
The exhibition is called “I Know Where I’m Going” after the film that inspired it - a film actually made on Mull in 1945. It was seeing some of this work a few years ago at the Platform Gallery that first got me hooked on Sarah’s artist’s books and paper cuts, and then I succumbed to a couple of her little multiples at Origin. So it was thrilling to see the whole body of work in its spiritual home!

“For each of three locations, Sarah has made a new work, building on an existing collection of artists books and installations that she had previously made for the main characters in the film. Using printed and intricately hand cut paper, featuring dialogue from the film, Sarah has constructed a body of work that comments intelligently on the layers of meaning in the film.”

Really wonderful work, beautifully presented – and you can see a lot of it, from its development through to installation, on Sarah’s blog here.

Can you tell I had a good time? The only thing I didn’t do that I expected to was the stitching I took for a rainy day. Including my weekly sample project, so I’m a bit behind with that. But I did manage to do (or at least start) a few pages in a tiny sketchbook, which I might show you later!