Rain and Sun.

As well as describing the weather we have had recently, rather a lot of rain for August I can’t help thinking, this is the title of the second book I am making for my Artist Book book. I’ve machine stitched the first book, The Summer Gardens, and it is ready to finish with hand stitch and beads, so I’m now laying down the pages for book two.

This is a different sort of chap altogether, being made entirely of fabric; I’m using many of the fabrics I have recently printed using my new Gelli Plate, especially the strongly graphic and vivid ones.

The fabrics have dictated the idea for the book, which is based on the rain forest, using strong bold elements and colours that cannot be described as shy. This is one of my favourite subjects.

Below is a selection of some of the fabrics I have sorted out for possible use. I will add some plain painted fabrics and the odd bit of silk and metallic too.




Some of the creatures that may be in the book, a mix of drawings new and old.


The first double page spread laid down. I chose fabrics I really wanted to work with and some little gecko drawings, and basically cut and placed until I was happy. There may be some text; this will be a fun book to make, as I will enjoy experimenting with shape and pattern and juxtaposition. I hope to include a few little surprises in it too, in terms of its structure. The pages are about 45 x 35 cms.




Above are some pieces of fabric ready for the next pages, which will be interesting to make as I have the idea of making a fold out panorama. I’m not sure which creatures and plants will be starring in it yet, I will decide that later, when I’ve finished packing for the next three days; Hilary Beattie and I will be at the Bramble Patch Open Studios from Thursday- Saturday, demonstrating and willing to chat, so come along if you can.


The Summer Gardens.

When I was at the Festival of Quilts, many lovely people were talking to me about my recently announced online course. I had to tell everyone that after much consultation with more level headed people than me, I had decided to turn my artist books for textile artists   [ and other artists too, I hope ] into a printed book.


It had become clear that the online course was an ever ballooning creature, in many ways, and the necessity imposed by a printed book of consolidating, editing and compressing my ideas was the best way to continue for me. And of course, it is all about books, so a book format does seems apt. I do hope to supplement the printed book with some more sensibly sized online diversions too.


The first artist book I am featuring the step by step making of in the book is laid down and ready to stitch. This is The Summer Gardens, which is constructed from painted and printed fabrics and papers on A3 Khadi paper sheets. Some images of it in progress are interspersed here.

I will be machine stitching the pages soon, and will be taking it to The Bramble Patch next week to continue working on it by hand, when Hilary Beattie and myself will be there for three days working in the Open Studio.



That will be Thursday 28th – Saturday 30th August, 10 -5, so drop in if you can. There is a small entry charge, which goes entirely to charity, and free tea, coffee, and biscuits, if we haven’t eaten them all before you come.


DSC_0216I will be starting the second book featuring in chapter one this afternoon; this is heading in the direction of a wild jungle affair, from what I can see, so that will be fun. This will be coming to the BP too, well, at least as much of it as I have made, with lots of other pieces of work too.



Bold and Bright

I’m teaching a couple of Bold and Bright courses this year, one is next week at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists gallery in Birmingham, and the other is at The Bramble Patch in Northamptonshire.

There are a few places left on both courses, and this is what we will be doing:

Working with strong bold shapes and a colour palette of your own choice, explore the pleasures of working with bold simple shapes and colour to produce a piece or a series of work. One of my favourite methods of working, it can produce some glorious vibrant pieces. Felt can be used as the background if you wish, it is very enjoyable to work with and lovely to stitch. We will also be painting and printing our own materials using acrylic paints and inks, to add a personal touch, as well a using any commercial fabrics you may want to bring along.

If you fancy joining in, click on the links to the RBSA and The Bramble Patch on the sidebar. Below are some images of some of my bold and bright work; it’s the perfect course for what is turning into a rather wet and dull August!

Steph Redfern, Floating pattern 3

Steph Redfern, Floating pattern 2






Festival of Quilts, all over for another year.


Phew, there it was, gone. Shows like this are crazy, really; an amazing creative event running absolutely full on for four days, then all cleared away until next time, not a trace left except in people’s memories, on their cameras and with a possible impact on their wallets too.

It was a great show, with so much lovely work. I particularly enjoyed Alicia Merrett’s gallery,  the European Art Quilt gallery, and Eszter Bornemisza’s amazing work. Then there was Anne Johnston and the Fine Art Quilt Masters galleries too, which were inspiring.

Our gallery, Art Textiles: Made in Britain was a lovely calm, white space, and I think it’s accurate to say we were all thrilled by the result of many months of hard work, which although featuring the hugely differing work of the eleven members, looked elegant and coherent. We received so many positive comments, it was marvellous, with many people saying it was their favourite.

Here are a few images, starting with my own stand. Many thanks to all the lovely people I spoke to, both old friends and new ones too, it was such a pleasure to meet you all, and thanks to Chloe, my lovely daughter, aka the product queen, for her help on the stand. It would have been impossible without her and my husband, who is the driver and an exceptionally indispensable bod.




Above, the Art Textiles:Made in Britain gallery, with some more images below. I will be putting more images onto the ATMIB website soon, too.





Here’s Hilary Beattie, on the left, the person who had the idea of forming Art Textiles: Made in Britain, and who has done so much work in getting it all going and indeed keeping it all going; it wouldn’t exist without her. Next to her is Cas Holmes, another hard working group member, as is Rosie James, below. We need a group photograph, must sort that for the next show.


So that’s all for another year at the Festival of Quilts, no excuses now, time to get down to some more work.


The art of concentration.

I’ve been working this week on making and writing my artist books course, and finishing the stitching on some of the new Natural Histories pieces. It’s not been easy, I don’t work that well in warm weather, as every part of me would prefer to sit down and read a book or have a doze, and my mind is very full of the approaching Festival of Quilts.

It’s been difficult to concentrate, especially as the kitchen is already filling up with boxes and other paraphernalia for my stand, and there’s a lot more to add. Then next week I get to enter the wonderful world of the 3d jigsaw that is getting all the stuff into the car. I need a lorry.

My stand is Demo H if you fancy dropping by. It’s close to the back of the halls by the loos and food, so always easy to find, for me at least.

I must admit I can’t wait for it to start, and this year we have the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery too which is very exciting.

So, below, some of the finished Natural Histories pieces, which will be mounted on canvases at some point. They are about 60 x 75 cm.









Below are a few images of work in progress for the artist book course. The pages are A3 sized, and I’m using paper as the base for the work, which is mostly textile.

The first image shows some of the fabrics recently painted and printed for this and future book projects. Image two shows design work in progress, and image three the laid down double page spread, which in this case will be machine stitched and hand stitched.





Right, off to do more book work and perhaps bring more awkwardly shaped objects into the kitchen ready to move to the NEC next week.


Beware, it’s true, Gelli plate printing is addictive…

Since I decided to write and make work for my online artist book course last week, I’ve been painting, printing, dyeing, and generally doing stuff to fabric and paper, and of course photographing it all as I go along. The camera has suffered, it was looking a little decorated at one point, due to the nature of the hands/paint/camera interface; I’m not a tidy worker.

One of the techniques I have used for some time is mono printing, and I naturally wanted to include this in the course. I’ve always used glass, perspex or laminated paper as the plate in the past, but thought as I’m writing this course I better get up to date with some of the equipment available. This of course was a great excuse to buy a Gelli plate, which I had wanted for ages.

They are certainly great to use, as they have a certain bounce and give, and they are rather amazing jelly like objects too, which sort of amuses me for some reason. I have taken lots of images in a step by step sort of way, but actually you just have to get in there and do it. If something looks dodgy, well, just print over it.

Paper supports stronger and denser prints, with fabric producing lighter images; or perhaps I need to press harder with fabric, and it is more absorbent of course. I liked the prints I made on black fabric, they were wonderfully dramatic. There is much more experimenting to do and more to learn, but I produced a good amount of materials for my Summer Gardens book, some of which will undoubtedly form the  basis for a number of pages, as they are  too interesting to cut up.

DSC_0143A selection of some of the tools, stencils and blocks I used with the Gelli plate. I used leaves too, as you will see below.

DSC_0225The plate spread with acrylic paint. It is there, under the paint, it’s quite difficult to spot. I bought the largest size, about A3.

And below, a few of the prints I made.

DSC_0090Above, a group of prints on watercolour paper.

The two images below show a selection of prints on mostly fabric, with one or two on paper.



DSC_0072Above, a multi layered print, which has something photographic about it.

DSC_0025Using leaves for a garden project seems apt.

DSC_0091This is one of my favourites. It may not be in the book though, possibly due to the fact it has an attitude that suggests it’s not a team player.

DSC_0068Look at these, the pieces of cut and torn paper I used as stencils, gorgeous. They’ll be used in a piece of work too.

Clive Hicks Jenkins has been working very hard, putting the puppet exhibition on his blog. If you have a minute, or perhaps longer, wiz over to have a look. There is a lot, so keep on scrollin’.

My e mail steph.redfern1@btinternet.com


In the garden studio, and a new online course.

On a fine day the garden makes the best studio. Thursday and Friday were spent painting and printing fabric outdoors, with the knowledge that Saturday was going to be very wet; this proved to be more accurate than most of us would wish.

I’m photographing these procedures as I go along as I am preparing an online course about making artists’ books. These are also frequently called bookworks or bookart, but I think the latter two terms include altered books and such, and I won’t be dealing with those, interesting as they are.

My aim is to introduce the possibilities of making a range of artists’ books to people who love textiles, stitching, and the use of a wide range of fabrics, papers, paints, inks and dyes, and good old mixed media of course, just as I do. Some of my books are in Gallery Two, and more will be added soon.

So basically it is about planning, designing and making pages for your own book or books. But it isn’t just about the book as we recognise it, it’s also about unusual bindings, boxed books and other book structures, themes and interpretation, producing gorgeous pages and objects, and enjoying yourself as you do it.

I have taught my course about making artists’ books on several occasions, and the quality and quantity of work produced, and the fact that people immediately began to think in terms of multiple pages, impressed me enormously. I think it was a new idea for most of the students too, and as I have also had requests to write an online course, well, I thought I would.

Chapter One will be available by December, sooner if possible, I’m working away at it, in the form of pdfs, which will be great displayed on tablets as well as laptops and other computers of course. Other Chapters will follow at close regular intervals.

I’ll be posting a synopsis soon; the course is suitable for all levels, you don’t need astonishing drawing skills either, but if you have them you can use them; if not, you can trace. It is a huge and generous subject, and there is something in it for everyone.

In Chapter One of the course I will be showing how to prepare your own palette of materials using acrylic paints and inks, including painting, block printing, thermofax printing, stencils and mono printing. We will then relate the materials produced to two book projects, a simply [my method] bound book mounted on paper, and a small fabric book.

You will learn how to decide on a theme, design, and make the books by seeing step by step how I make one myself. My binding methods are not very conventional, so don’t worry, no book binding skills are needed.

My books in Chapter One will be based upon the summer garden; title as yet undecided, possibly The Summer Gardens. I decided on plural gardens as it’s possible that some of the images I use to base my work on may not all be of my own garden, which although lovely and indeed jungle like is very green, and I may want to include some hefty shots of colour that my patch doesn’t possess.

A few images showing work in progress and some of the fabrics I produced.








I am making some pieces for a series of work entitled Vivid. Two have been machine stitched now, and await finishing with hand stitch.


The threads here are quite old. I bought them before my daughter was born, and she is 23 and a half now, from the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Worcestershire. At the time I made my living from making and teaching ceramics, but loved textiles. When I bought them the assistant asked what I was going to do with them, and I replied that I was going to make a piece of work featuring bright beetles. Well that was my intention, and when I spotted them a few days ago, I thought it was time to actually use them as intended!

Some years after that another ceramist and I had our shop and workshop at the Jinney Ring, for 5 years. When I left there I stopped making ceramics and textiles appeared on the scene; I think they had been waiting in the wings for 20 years.

And below, the second Vivid piece. This features some older unfinished work, and some new thermofax screen printed fabric too, with machine stitching and ink flinging.

DSC_0003Off to make some thermofax prints and mono prints.