Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sample Project 2013 - November

Aaaaahh... nearly there! And thoughts begin to turn to next year's weekly sample project - or is there even going to be one, maybe this madness has gone on long enough? Hmmm.

Week 45: Waterfalls
(Photo of Cotter Force, Wensleydale)
Three layers of black felt with Tencel fibres embellished over.

Week 46: Moss-festooned trees
(Photo of mossy woods in Glen Orchy)
Wool yarn embellished onto brown felt branch, with trailing ends. Branch then embellished onto suiting fabric.

Week 47: Colourfully banded fungus
(Photo of polypore fungi)
Free machined straight stitch on muslin stretched in a hoop.
Week 48: Elgol five ships legend
(Photo of Elgol, Skye)
According to legend, the name Elgol derives from a sea battle fought by the Picts and Scots against the five ships of Aella, a lieutenant of Vortigern (5thC ruler of southern Britain).
Ship outlines free machined on hand dyed calico.

Friday, 22 November 2013


Published today - an interview about me and my work on TextileArtist.org.

It's much more revealing than this blog's ever been - I'm glad you can't see my bright red face, it's not a pretty sight!

But thank you Joe and Sam, it's an honour to be part of this great textile art resource. The website is full of fascinating features and interviews - if you haven't visited before, grab a cuppa and make yourself comfy, you'll be there a while!   

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sample Project 2013 - October

Another five sample month!  My John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary is getting nice and fat now, with textile samples sparked by the weekly photos.

Week 40: Bracken among heather
(Photo of Cumbrian fells)
Purple scrim embellished onto green felt. Bracken fronds made by free machining on dissolvable fabric.
Sample 41: Confluence of two streams
(Photo of two Cumbrian becks merging)
Built in machine embroidery pattern stitched on Kunin felt in two different shades of blue. Cut out then twisted together.
Sample 42: Kingfisher plumage
(Photo of kingfisher)
Orange and turquoise/blue wool fibres embellished onto white wool felt. Free machined spots.
Sample 43: Giant's Causeway polygonal columns
(Photo of Giant's Causeway)
Hand stitched on paper with stranded cottons.
Sample 44: Hedgehog spines
(Photo of hedgehog)
Kunin felt embellished with hand dyed scrim. Hand stitch with stranded cottons. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sample Project 2013 - September

A good exercise in rapid responses to the subjects this month, no time to dither or work as carefully and intensively as I usually do! Must be good for me, right?

Week 36: Pine marten tracks
(Photo of two pine martens)
Free machined paw prints on white Lutradur over black woolly fabric, then burned away with soldering iron.
Week 37: Moth wing pattern
(Photo of Merveille-de-jour moth)
Built in scallop pattern embroidered unevenly on Kunin felt. 

 Week 38: Channel cut through sand on beach
(Photo of Mellon Udrigle beach, Wester Ross)
Beige wool felt embellished through shiny patterned polyester fabric from the back.
Week 39: Beech leaf skeleton
(Photo of beech wood)
Free machined on brown Lutradur then zapped with heat gun.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two Weeks Off

A long-awaited holiday… a lot to cram in! You'd best grab a cuppa if you're going to stay the distance...

It started with a week in one of our favourite places – the Isle of Skye. A relaxing week in a cottage right on the shore.

Amazingly, Emma of  A Little Bit of Everything had an exhibition in Plockton the very same week, so that was a must. Great to meet her and see her work in person, and we had a lovely long chat. She had a wonderful display of mixed media art and cuffs, brooches, purses etc. Really impressed with how she's developed her own unique style and created so much exhibition-quality work, without easy access to all the galleries, shows and suppliers those of us on the mainland can visit. And when I finally dragged myself away she gave me a pack of inspiring treasures – fabrics, threads and papers plus Skye “coral”, bark, a beautiful feather (owl?), sea glass and even vintage geological book pages (very me). Look!

Thank you Emma, hope to meet up again sometime!

Plenty more to see and do once we got home…

A trip to RHS Harlow Carr to stock up on plant images for future work:

Still plenty of flowers, plus gorgeous seed heads – especially loved the grasses, cardoons, alliums and eryngiums. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies still on the wing too.

Then there was Cloth and Memory 2 at Salt’s Mill - absolutely stunning. It’s not often you see such a vast, intriguing space filled with textile art on a scale to match.
I especially liked Reece Clement’s diptych of Saltaire architectural images very finely laser etched onto grey suiting fabric and then blurred by needle felting creamy wool through from the back. And Jeanette Appleton’s lengths of felt made to resemble books on shelves, fitted into the bobbin niches in the walls.

Peta Jacob’s huge, highly detailed panel developed from a 1950s photo of Bradford Wool Exhange members. It made brilliant use of devore on a fine silk/cotton fabric (rather than the usual velvet), leaving transparent areas with just the cotton warp remaining.

Many of the pieces showed extraordinary ambition and tenacity. Yoriko Yoneyama stuck thousands of individual rice grains onto fine threads, draped and reflected in mirrors. Astonishing, delicate work, but ultimately a bit disappointing – maybe it was the random collection of old mirrors, or that you couldn’t walk right round it. Karina Thompson ran the 168m length of the room and recorded her heart ECG and footprints in a 100m (!) digital embroidery.

I haven’t time to describe all 23 artists’ work, but do have a look at the Cloth and Memory website (plenty of good images), or better still go and see the exhibition – it’s on until 3 November. The accompanying book is a beautiful thing too.  

And there's more...

I’ve also had a first taste of a new craft – glass fusing. Oooh… could be addictive! In just 2 hours with Genevieve Thompson of Wicked Gen Crafts I made a little dish, a window hanger and a pendant, trying out all the different ways of decorating the glass. Great fun! Can’t wait to see how they turn out after firing. This is a “before” pic of my dish:

And then, in Skipton, there was the first Yarndale –“ a festival of creativity celebrating traditional and contemporary crafts using wool, cotton, linen and silk in an area which is still the home of many yarn based businesses.” The first, but so busy and successful it can’t be the last… I’m not much of a knitter or felter but it was great to see so many thriving craft businesses and enthusiastic crafters.

I thought there was plenty of yarn at the Knitting and Stitching Shows, but if that’s your thing Yarndale has far more to offer - stall after stall of delicious hand dyed wools, and everything else you could wish for. I succumbed to  some fun bits to play with on  the embellisher machine, and some bright cotton to crochet.

But what about my weekly samples for September? Um… there will be a slight delay!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sample Project 2013 - August

A five sample month! And three of them geological.

Week 31: Puffin beak
(Photo of puffin with beak full of sand eels)
Based on close up of the banded beak.
Free machined on calico. Shaded orange thread used instead of accurate colour bands.

 Week 32: Granite under microscope
(Photo of Dartmoor granite tors)
Inspired by a thin section under a microscope, showing the different minerals.
Scraps of fabric and metal flake bonded under sheer fabric using Misty Fuse.
Doesn't photograph very well!

 Week 33: Rocks on a beach
(Photo of rocky beach at Diabaig, Torridon Mountains)
Acrylic paint on black Craft Vilene. Stones outlined in black free machining.
The paint didn't go on easily, as I hadn't bothered to mix it with fabric medium - but in the end I liked the effect it gave, with some of the black showing through.

Week 34: Pattern inside foxglove flower
(Photo of foxglove plant)
Commercial wool felt, embellished. Tiny bits of felt break up well when needle felted with the machine, giving a suitable fuzzy effect.
 Week 35: Ammonite suture patterns
(Photo of Jurassic coast, Dorset)
Jurassic = ammonites, but let's not be too obvious... The suture patterns are the intricate boundaries separating the chambers of the ammonite shell. They became more complex as the creatures evolved.
Free machine embroidery on Kunin felt using a light gold rayon thread reminiscent of the iron pyrites often found in ammonite imprints.    


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Work in progress

Two works in progress actually, the avocets and butterflies wouldn't really work together:
Hmm, which would be better - avocets the size of butterflies or butterflies the size of avocets?!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hand stitching? Me?

Ah but... still using dissolvable fabrics!

No Bernina was tortured in the making of these.
And no background fabric was used either. They're made entirely of various threads - and full of holes! I've been developing this technique for a while, think I've cracked it now.
Several of these little pieces are now available, mounted ready to frame, in my Etsy shop. Postage is free to UK addresses.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Sample Project 2013 – July

And still it goes on… four more textile samples inspired (sometimes obliquely) by the weekly photos in a 2013 John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary.
Week 27: Bee Orchid
(Photo of bee orchids)
Crocheted to my own design in stranded cottons (the only threads I had with the right colours).
Week 28: Coastal wild flowers
(Photo of Bedruthan Cove, Cornwall)
Background of brown felt with bits of green yarn embellished on, then green straight stitches. French knots in yellow and lilac pearl cotton.
Week 29: Red squirrel tail
(Photo of red squirrel)
Red-brown tapestry wool machine stitched onto hand dyed calico then fluffed out with a teasel brush.
Week 30: Cwm Idwal gate
(Photo of Afon Idwal draining from Llyn Idwal)
This is one of my favourite places anywhere! Went a bit off piste with my sample…
I decided to use the design of the gate on the path to Cwm Idwal, designed by Joe Roberts, one of the National Park’s Seasonal Wardens, as a tribute to conservationist Evan Roberts, who was appointed first Warden of Cwm Idwal in 1953.
The top of the gate represents the topographic profile of the Cwm's headwall, whilst the rails show the bedding planes of the geology and the notch of Twll Du (Devil's Kitchen). The lower part shows a lateral moraine and the whole scene reflected in Llyn Idwal.
I machine stitched the design on Aquasol using wire on the bobbin so the curves would keep their shape, and then zigzagged over it. Fiddly! I couldn’t just stitch it out on fabric, could I…

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sample Project 2013 - June


Week 23: Orange Tip butterfly wing
(Photo of male Orange Tip)
White felt over green, free machine veins.
Then embellished from the back to create green mottling on the white.

 Week 24: Lady's Smock
(Photo of Lady's Smock wildflower)
Eight different names for the plant, free machined on hand dyed cotton using the colours of the flowers and the photo background. 

Week 25: Afon Lledr, tumbling water
(Photo of Afon Lledr rushing through narrow chasm)
Bamboo sliver embellished onto blue Kunin felt.

Week 26: Red-throated diver
(Photo of bird largely concealed amongst cotton grass)
Simplified head free machined on patterned fabric.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sample Project 2013 - May

A little late - but I had a good excuse, see previous post!

Five samples this month, some more literal* than others.

* They're inspired by the photo for that week in a 2013 John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary.

Week 18: Frost-shattered rock
(Photo of jagged summit rocks of Glyder Fawr)
My own handmade  mottled grey paper over black cotton fabric. Machine stitched then cut back.
Week 19: Dipper
(Photo of dipper bird with moss in its beak)
White felt embellished onto brown for the bird's distinctive "bib".
Its Latin name Cinlus cinlus free machined across this in moss green. But not boldly enough!
Week 20: Larch flower
(Photo of larch flowers - cones-to-be)
Green Lutradur "petals" free machined then burned out with a soldering iron and hand stitched together in overlapping pattern. Hmm, potential...
Week 21: Mupe Rocks at sunset
(Photo of Mupe Rocks, Dorset)
Black cotton bonded to pelmet Vilene. Very long straight stitches in Stef Francis space dyed fine cotton threads, leaving rock areas unstitched.
Week 22: Wood sorrel leaves
(Photo of wood sorrel plants)
Tweedy fabric embellished with scrim from the back. Heart shapes cut from green paper and hand stitched to the background in threes. I resisted doing the flowers because I did so many wood anemones recently! And because the leaves are wonderful on their own.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey

Last Friday I was lucky enough to finally visit this amazing event - thanks to a family visit not too far from Devon combined with a free ticket courtesy of exhibitor Dionne Swift. I'm just sorry I didn't make it until  its 10th year, it really is wonderful.

A sunny day in a park, huge marquees bursting with craft talent - 200 of the very best designer-makers, plus demonstrations and talks. What more could you ask from a day out? Good food and ice cream? Tick - even for us veggies. Yet more excellent crafts? Tick - the Devon Guild's Riverside Mill is just a short stroll away.
I can't possibly describe all the beautiful work I saw, so I'll just mention a few favourites with textile connections.

Dionne Swift, at the fair and in the mill too, had new machine stitched work that I loved. "Coastal Stitches" had bold sweeps of colour, "painterly" as they say - but for me stitch adds an essential extra dimension that paint lacks.
Laura Thomas sets loosely woven colourful threads in blocks of acrylic, creating gorgeous effects with reflected light. We've admired her work for years, but this time she had smaller affordable pieces so we now have our very own little piece.

I'd only seen Zoe Hillyard's "ceramic patchwork" in magazines - she takes broken ceramic vessels, covers each shard with fabric and then stitches them back together. Fascinating.

I'm always drawn to paper cuts - I think they relate to my own work, lacy, light and full of space. I fancy doing it, but the cutting is agony, have you tried it?! There must be a knack I haven't got. So I'll leave it to the experts...

Lucy Large had framed landscapes, birds and flowers in several colours, not just the usual all-white.

Caroline Rees is really a glass designer, but the stencils she makes for sandblasting are appealing in themselves so she does some as art in their own right.  

We've all seen (maybe even tried) crocheted wire jewellery - trouble is the wire won't let you pull it tight, it ends up quite loopy. Ebba Goring's solution is to use fine cotton to create crochet or lace and then use it to make a mould and cast in precious metal. Ingenious, beautiful.

Gilly Langton's bangles also used textile techniques - they're hand knitted in elastic, then dyed to give a shaded effect, and finished with a silver clasp.

And for Judith Brown it's haberdashery - she creates jewellery from hooks and eyes, press studs, etc., stitched together with wire. The all black ones are stunning, you don't realise what they're made of at first. 

And, and, and... I could go on forever but why not check out all the makers for yourself on the Craft Festival site! Inspiring.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Wood Anemones

Every year we have more and more wood anemones spreading across the garden - there's thousands now and they look wonderful.

Living on (in!) the edge of a wood, we really appreciate all the spring wild flowers as very little will bloom once the tree canopy closes.

In the mood for a bit of stitchy play, I happened to see a menu, offering something "three ways"... hmm. How about anemones three ways?
Machine embroidery using Flower Stitcher attachment 

Free machine embroidery on soluble fabric with scraps of thread and fabric

Crochet flowers on embellisher-ed felt/scrim background
I like the dissolvable machine embroidery best - no surprise there, then. But it does me good to try something different now and then... doesn't it?!