Autumn collage

I often find that a new burst of creativity often leads to working with collage, to spark some ideas and to make new materials to work with.

I’ve started a stitched mixed media textile series based on fossils, nests and shells, with probably a few pebbles thrown in too. Some textile pieces are now ready and waiting to be stitched, which I’ll share in future posts, when I have added more textile pieces to the series.

I started with the old collage favourite, the painted papers. The idea wasn’t to actually use autumn colours, I did have some paler compositions in mind. But with collage I find it’s best to just let it do as it wants, something useful always comes out of it even if you don’t actually like all the results. I do like a bit of orange though.

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Below, starting work with the painted papers.

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Some of the finished collages are shown below. I photograph these, often with objects laid onto them, such as shells, a little deceased moth I found in the garden, twigs.

Then they are played with in Photoshop and printed onto inkjet fabric to use in the textile and mixed media work, either cut up or in full. They could be printed onto nice paper too, and incorporated into a piece. Sometimes I’ll choose a close up, sometimes the full piece to change by adding a layer or two in Photoshop from other images I’ve taken.

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The collage above was based on botanical fossils.

After a few rather more vigorous collages a gentler piece appeared. I decided not to cut these printed papers up, I liked them as they are, blocky. They’re from previous digitally manipulated images printed on paper that I keep in my collage material folder.

I wanted to make a couple of sea collages to work with. These are just laid down, so the components can just be moved around to make different images.

There are more but that’s enough for the moment!

Natural Histories, the hoops version.

I’ve been making a new series of work in hoops, hopefully to show next year with the group Art Textiles: Made in Britain. Our new show is titled Illuminate, and we have some tour venues in place, with more to be added. It’s an excellent title, and we are naturally individually approaching the theme in a variety of ways.

Although my work is inevitably based on the natural world, another thing I love is illuminated manuscripts. I saw a fantastic exhibition of illuminated manuscripts some years ago at the British Library, and although their influence didn’t creep into my work for a very long time, I think it is now.

I have more in this series, Natural Histories, to finish, which I think I’ll keep under wraps until the show is up for its first date, but here are some finished pieces and work in progress.

I will be showing another hoop series too, and hopefully some mixed media work, involving textiles and porcelain. This is at the experimental stage, so who knows what will happen. I certainly don’t! There are a couple of images at the end of the post of this work just being started.

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Two of the final pieces waiting to be stitched.

Below, some porcelain pages in the process of being made. They will be fired to 1260 degrees Celsius and will shrink a lot. They are just over 15 x 9 cm at the moment, 6 x 4 inches. I’ve textured them with texture blocks I made in clay from my old linocuts and foam printing blocks.

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Well there’s yet anther heat wave here, with temperatures steadily climbing. It’s my least favourite weather, so I imagine I’ll be inside with the fan aimed at me, working on these pieces. I have no desire to be out and about in 30 degrees plus.

Keep well everyone, whatever weather you prefer.

Repurposing the repurposed.

I’m very much into using what I have these days, in terms of textile and other art supplies. This includes some older finished pieces that I’m happy to cut up and play around with, to then include in new work. It’s better than having them sit around aimlessly and it makes me feel thrifty, as well as being fun too.

I sorted some materials that I thought may work with the latest condemned embroidery. Not everything gets used, even though I always try to shoehorn as much as possible in. I then spend ages taking a great deal out. I wanted these pieces to be quite busy though, a mix of interesting areas combined with more mono or plainer spaces.

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These three pieces below are the result.

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The birds are from a large piece that I laid down last year, and although I liked it I realised I would never finish it. Smaller seems to be the way these days.

The idea is to stitch them quite closely with machine stitch, which I may do. I say may as although I like these pieces in some ways I really am not one for too much raised texture in my textile work. I like fine, flat and graphic on the whole. So the stitch would really have to flatten them a lot to make me happy. The already added beads could be a pest!

A neutral unifying thread used on all pieces may be the way. When I’d finished laying them down I put some images into Photoshop, and liked the results, below.

I’m possibly more likely to print these out and use them in some work. That seems fine, the originals can sit around and could spark something in the future, but doing them has been interesting and I have ended up with a good resource too.

I do many little sketches of ideas in my sketch books, but also see collage as my main and most interesting idea development tool. These fabric collages fit into that bracket, and I am tempted to do more whether they are finished as they stand, or not.

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I’ve been in the garden, gardening of course but also using it as inspiration. It’s growing rather well this year…

I am tending to let it do its own thing more and more. The reason of course is that it’s good for insects, [ honestly, I mean it, even though so many of them like to eat me ] but also it looks good, and that this particular cunning plan matches my energy levels these days.

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I know that in every way this garden is in my work. It’s not a big garden, but it offers a lot. This new series of work, below, feeds from the view from our kitchen window. Well, not the sea piece, unfortunately. They are all waiting to be stitched. They are in 10 inch/26 cm hoops.

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I don’t yet have a title for this series, which is unusual. One will appear. Below are two night pieces from the series.

The piece below is finished.

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So there we are. Thanks for reading, if you did. If not I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Cut it up and start again.

That’s the good thing with textiles, you can cut up work in progress and re jig it if it’s not working.

I had an idea that I would like to use up my digitally printed fabric in a series of pieces of work. I print the fabric myself on inkjet fabric, using my own images. I like the silk best, on the whole. I mixed in some indigo dyed silk and commercial fabrics too.

I put together a few pieces, as you can see below. They are about 35 cm square.

Earth, above, and Sea, below.

Whilst they made nice images for Instagram, when I got down to actually starting to stitch them they did nothing for me at all.

So out came the scissors, and cutting up commenced. I had quite a few ideas about what to do with them, but none of them really gabbed me.

I’ve been working on another series of work for an exhibition next year, some pieces in hoops.These pieces below will fit in nicely with the others. I know there are hoop lovers, and those who don’t like them, but for some while they have interested me and I’ve enjoyed making pieces in them. I blame an exhibition of illuminated manuscripts I saw some years ago; the beautiful self contained glowing images on each page.

A hoop allows me to create and contain a similar small, delicate world.

So from the cut up pieces I assembled this, photographed it and printed it out on silk.

I decided to use that image in a straightforward manner as you can see, above, bottom right. For the other two hoops I used elements from the original square pieces. I must say I am much happier now and actually want to stitch them.

Naturally I haven’t succeeded in using up much of my original fabric, there’s enough for many more hoops and small work. Using stuff up isn’t easy, and I don’t have much of a stash at all! Still, it’s always fun to get the scissors out.

Below, some close ups.

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So there we are, add these to the other five [ I’ve not blogged about the original five yet ] and I have a nice little stack of hoops ready to stitch. I’m trying to decide on a title for the whole series.

Thanks for reading and happy making!

Works in progress.

I’ve finished and sent off all my work for my show at Queen Street Gallery in Neath, Wales. The exhibition starts on May 7 and runs until May 28. Posting work is always a worry, particularly a whole show, but it’s arrived safely and undamaged, so I’m happy. The packing was less than elegant…

After I’d faffed about packing the work up and sending it it was good to be able to get back to thinking about some new work. I’ve called this post works in progress but really it should be called work I’ve started. I have around three or indeed four projects on the go, not counting the unfinished dressmaking.

I don’t seem to be able to stick to one at a time these days. I care not, it should be fun and enjoyable and to me that means doing what you want when you want to, which seems to be everything at the same time around here.

Firstly, some landscape pieces, in preparation and laid down. Yes, I do use all the scissors all the time too.

Next, the project I call my journal project, a collection of collages older and new, with printed text and I hope more textular additions, possibly written by hand. I want to stitch the pages too, I like that machine stitch on paper look, the crunchiness of it. I’m going to put them into a chunky ring binder. It will be an ongoing affair; when the basics are done I can add to it wherever I want to in the pages.

Below, some images, the first one of some of the papers I used, followed by some pages. I’m wanting to use all these papers and collage pieces rather than push them into a messy folder. Also, printing on tracing paper, ooh, love it.

I’ve also started a fabric project, which will be hand stitched. I like working with digital images and had printed off quite an amount onto special ink jet fabrics. I like the poplin and silk especially, and have used most of the fabric in different pieces of work. The scraps are being put together in mosaics on linen, and will be hand stitched with beads and some of my porcelain pieces added. I need to make more porcelain, particularly smaller pieces.
The two above are ready to be stitched. There will be one or perhaps two more in the series. The little piece below is an early idea of how the pieces may look.

Lastly, and phew I hear to say, if you’ve got this far, I’m still heavily into needlepoint. I’m quite excited as I’ve ordered a shade card of DMC wools, which seems to be taking a long time to arrive, fingers crossed it will get here eventually.

This will prevent me from ordering the wrong colours consistently from the internet, I hope. Not that they are that wrong, they will be used, but if I get any more of the wrong pink I will shout.

I’ve started a new needlepoint series, below is number one. I was watching the normal life episode of Grayson’s Art Club, and thought it would be interesting to observe my normal life. I’d forgotten it was called that, however, and I’ve called my series Ordinary, which I will stick with now.

A walk around the suburban roads, a few images taken, and it seems I’ve suddenly become keen on large vehicles and white vans. This is fun, and I chose this image and fiddled on Photoshop with it, mainly for fun. It’s the 39A bus, folks!

I’ve had to include the shadow of a moth, perhaps showing there’s magic everywhere, if you’re lucky. No stitches yet, plenty of weird internet chosen colours to get going with though.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to create, like I am, and bloody grateful for it too, keep at it, and keep sharing.

xxx

February news.

I’m finishing off some pieces destined for a little solo show at the Queen Street Gallery in Neath, Wales, in May. It’s a great gallery, run by textile artist Bethan Ash, maker of truly beautiful pieces.

My show is called Stories of the Bowerbird.

Here are four pieces, ready to frame in box frames. They are mixed media, consisting of fabric, paper, porcelain and beads, with machine stitch and hand stitch. They are quite small for me, 30 x 30 cm, 12 x 12 inches, so therefore compact and easy to work with. My work is getting smaller, possibly because I don’t have much space, but I do miss making a big piece. I have a dream of laying down a large background piece of fabric and basically extemporising across it, adding imagery and materials organically, no plans, just materials and scissors, iron and glue.

So, below, some individual views of some finished pieces.

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I was hoping to make a couple of nests for my show, and was full of plans, with a sketchbook of ideas and thumbnails. But I admit I’ve made just one. It is a smaller version of one I made a couple of years ago, using wire, paper, stones, bark, plastic from milk bottles and sea glass. Of course now I write this I feel like making another, interestingly. I do have some tantalising coloured wires, and there’s still time…

Above and below, choosing materials and work in progress.

Below, the finished nest.

I still enjoy making ceramics, and below is a piece in progress. It’s porcelain, constructed from textured small slabs. I’ve made a selection of textured press moulds from linocuts and printing blocks that I’ve made over the years. I’ll post some finished pieces at some point. They are unusual shapes when finished, but are strangely useful.

The image is on a slope, to get as much as possible in, I don’t actually build my pots at this angle…

So there we are, a little round up of what’s been going on on the work table. I’m finishing some canvas mounted pieces next, below. I am rather dragging my feet about this, as I really dislike finishing textiles, but love starting new pieces. I don’t have that problem with ceramics, interestingly, I really enjoy finishing them. Apart from enjoying all stages of the ceramic process, there’s always the anticipated results when offering up your labours to the the kiln.

Keep creating, it’s good for you!

Stories of the Bowerbird.

I have an exhibition coming up at Queen Street Gallery, Neath, Wales in May this year. It’s a brilliant gallery run by Bethan Ash, the famous textile artist who makes enviably wonderful work, and is a fellow member of Art Textiles: Made in Britain. She hosts many excellent exhibitions and workshops.

I’ve called my exhibition Stories of the Bowerbird. I do love a title. It’s not all about bowerbirds, although they are joyous and far cleverer than I will ever be. But some have crept into the work I’m making: I can’t help it, being an illustrative type of person.

Here’s my statement about the show.

Collecting ideas and impressions from nature has always been the basis of my practice as an artist. I work with mixed media, including stitched textiles, sculpture and ceramics. My sculptural works incorporate wire and textiles, paper, plastic, ceramics, found objects, recycled and natural materials, and are often based upon woven nests. The bowerbird of the title is an analogy for my use of the variety materials and inspirations I collect which then lead to finished pieces, the realisation of these processes.

I started with gathering a few materials and making some collage postcards, which I did intend to stitch, but have decided to just keep them as inspiration, and this is what they have proved to be.

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Below is a now broken piece of ceramic that I made and painted some years ago, which will be incorporated into a piece of work.

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I’ll be adding more mixed media to my work for the show, and hope to make some sculptural pieces too.

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Here’s a nice selection of materials ready to go. This piece and two others do feature actual bowerbirds! I intended to make a top with the fabric but there wasn’t quite enough, so it’s going to be pictures instead.

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Here’s the first, laid out and ready to stitch. I printed the fabric using a home made print block and acrylic paint, adding porcelain pieces, and appliquéd mixed fabrics.

And to finish, a couple of completed hoops, with Japanese silk birds, quite a few beads, and digitally printed fabrics from images of collages.

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Happy art making everyone!

Reminders of the sea.

I’ve not had a great deal of time to work recently but I have enjoyed some evening hand stitching on my sea series. That’s why I find working in hoops so liberating, they are easy to pick up, work on a little, put down.

This sea shrine piece, below, has gone through some changes. It was originally home to some sea urchins but they decided not to cooperate, so this fishy chap was employed instead. More work needs to be done to make the urchins agreeable, so they may or may not appear in the future. They were made from very fraying Japanese silk, which I love, but it’s not at all compliant.

These below are now finished too.

Above, detail, with feet.

And to finish, below, the next one waiting to be stitched. I was going to end this series here, originally. But I’m enjoying making these so will add a couple more, probably more little sea shrines, I think.

Can you create when the kitchen floor needs ripping up?

Well the answer is no, obviously. A little long term leak from the washing machine tap, conveniently hidden up a dark corner behind the hideously weighty washing machine had soaked the boards under the kitchen floor. We didn’t know, it was that sneaky. Well obviously we did eventually when we started to notice rising water between the tiles.

So quite a lot of time recently has been given to ripping up the floor. It was hard work but our daughter was great at it. It’s not a huge floor but the resulting amount of soaked wood and old tiles was. I’m quite pleased actually as I hated the floor and underneath are quarry tiles, all rather lovely but in need of much scraping. They’ve been there for 90 years and are flat and perfect. I’ve always wanted them revealed, they were covered 40 years ago as they don’t fill the whole floor, due to walls being removed and so on, and in those days homogenous and poor solutions were those generally taken. I prefer a more creative approach these days.

So there’s building work to be done too as we also need a new sink and unit and worktop. All this does affect the creative flow, so there’s not a lot to show, except for half a scraped quarry tiled floor, which I haven’t yet photographed, so don’t get too excited. Perhaps the floor could start its own Instagram account.

So back to the clean and peaceful world of embroidery. This hoop is part of a sea series I’m working on, it’s the first finished piece.

Below is a work in progress from the same series.

Lots of little stitches.

And this is one below is called Sea Shrine. I may make more sea shrines, the concept is quite appealing.

It’s based upon sea urchins and will be well beaded. I’ve used Japanese silk, which you really have to watch as it unravels before your eyes, and my own digitally printed cotton.

For the first time in absolutely ages I had a trip to London in September. We went to the Summer Show at the RA, and I must say it was great to be back there. I did a little dance, I love the place that much. Great hotel and company too.

Here are a few general images of the show. There was a good amount of textile art this year; Yinka Shonibare was the co – ordinator, so that’s probably why.

We also saw the David Hockney exhibition of his iPad French lockdown pieces, which I must say I did enjoy. He doesn’t mind a bit of bright colour, and isn’t afraid to just celebrate what he sees and enjoys. Really refreshing.

Back soon I hope with possibly one more finished piece and a lovely kitchen floor…

Square to circle.

I decided, last time I made a large piece of work, that I had had enough of big.

I have done a fair amount of big work, wrestling awkward and unwilling layers of fabric through the sewing machine. I’ve also made large work from hanging individual components together. And I’ve made some hefty artists’ books. That’s another story, ideal for weight training though.

I was always so enthusiastic, ideas spread over a large substrate are always exciting to explore and develop, , and the effort was worth it. The pieces earned their keep in shows and in gaining me employment, bless them. They are a bit of a pain now though as I face that artists’ conundrum of what to do with rather a lot of large stored work. Small pieces aren’t so much the problem, they generally move along given a show or whatever, but when it comes to pieces up to 2.5 x 2.5m I don’t think there would be many people able to give them a home.

If anyone out there has any ideas, please let’s start a help page, or whatever! It’s a common problem with painters, but textiles are more difficult to deal with, particularly ones that are XXXXXL.

So it was with fairly typical inattentiveness I recently started another big piece. It’s in the post before this one. It’s not huge by some standards, but when I finished the laying down I rolled it up and had no enthusiasm for stitching it. It’s on linen, which I love, but even with some test stitching using the machine I didn’t like the creasing. I do love flat and tidy. I love a wiggle, frayed edge and crease in other peoples’ work, just not mine.

Then I decided to use the naughty linen once again for some smaller pieces; they were about 40cm square. Once again I wasn’t happy, I didn’t like the machined look they seemed to demand, and hand stitch didn’t suit them.

So, it was back to the hoop. I have developed such love for the hoop. Stretched fabric looks excellent, linen can be well sorted, and as I really only want to do hand stitch at the moment, it looks at home in the hoops whereas on the flat pieces it just looked wrong.

I recently took part in my first exhibition for around two years. It was great to get back to it, and I chose to hang a number of hoops. Well, that was fabulous, they all fitted into a small box, they weighed nothing, they didn’t need levelling up and hung on a neat little tack. They were well received, undulating as they did across the wall.

Before and after images…

Some materials: digitally printed fabric from images of my collages, silk, thread and a bird I liked.

Above are some multiple images from the three laid down pieces of work in their square format. There was a fourth, and may the fourth not be with you because alas I cut it up, to be seen at a later date, I disliked it that much.

I do like a couple of these square lays though and may recreate them as stitched collages on paper, since I’ve photographed them all.

Below, after. Hoops! Fun at last. These are the first four.

I’ve used the three birds that I had already cut out, and it’s likely that following hoops will be a little more esoteric.

I’m finding I’m very sea orientated at the moment as I haven’t been to the coast for so long, it’s too sad. Really I should live there, I’ve always wanted to, but seem to be stuck in the middle of England!

Collage and pattern.

I’ve been using collage as an idea and a design tool for a very long time. I find it an excellent way to freely and vigorously create and develop images, often producing great surprises.

I have recently sorted out my collage paper collection. There didn’t seem to be that much, but many sheets and snippets of paper can fit into quite a small space, and it was a mess. Here is some of it below.

I used some to put together some tiny collages to stitch as cards. I really enjoy making these. Here is the pile of cut out and assembled cards ready to be finished with stitch and beads, and mounted onto card stock.

I culled a few papers I didn’t much like and then made a series of small collages. They are about A5, 8 x 5.5 inches. I layered and photographed them with various pieces from my small natural history collection, drift wood, shells, a wasp nest, dried leaves. I must make a note to try some with fresh flowers.

Here are some of those below.

Some were simply collages constructed for a photograph then deconstructed.

I printed a selection of the images onto cotton and silk inkjet fabrics.

Although it was my intention to make only relatively small pieces of work for a while, these images demanded a bigger canvas. Well it’s linen actually, just over a metre by a metre, around 40 x 40 inches.

I didn’t want to cut into the collage images too much, I mostly just sliced and separated them and placed them on the fabric.

I drew and selected pattern shapes for the birds, trees and so on and cut them out of more digitally printed fabric, along with some plain cottons, laying them across the linen. This is always my favourite part of making work.

I need a bigger table.

After pinning the piece to some calico craftily hung from the wardrobe doors I was able to add finishing touches.

I’ve bonded it to a calico backing before stitching as I like a firm piece to work on. I intend to hand stitch it, which should slow things down to say the least.

I have more collages and photo/collage combinations that are suggesting more new work. I should, I know, finish this one before I start another but that’s never been my way. I always think if the enthusiasm is there just go with it.

The Moon remains.

I’ve finished The Moon remains, a piece I’ve made for the Festival of Quilts to be held at the NEC, BirminghamUK, from July 29 until August 1.

It’s 1m x 70cm, made from collaged mixed fabrics, some printed and painted using acrylic paints, some digitally printed, some plain commercial fabrics, and printed Khadi paper, on black felt. It’s densely quilted by machine with metallic thread. It took a while!

The felt is a wonderful surface to quilt, resulting in a great texture. I’ll be using this combination of materials again, undoubtedly.

It’s mounted on canvas as it’s embellished with some porcelain pieces.

The piece is based upon some words I’ve written.

The night bird steps 

into the silvered  day,

and stars prepare their 

dance, unseen.

Through the lattice of 

light, 

the Sun becomes invisible,

the Moon remains.

Below, the work in various stages, and finished, ending with some details of the finished piece.

Thank you!

Gift.

As promised, and I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly, here are all eight pieces from my now finished series called Gift. Based on some words I’ve written, in my own small way it’s a celebration of our planet, via the medium of mixed media and textiles.

All in 30 cm/12 inch hoops.

Altogether.

Gift.

I’m working on a new series of work at the moment, with the hope that it will go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham, later this year. Hopefully the Festival will run, but if not they do a wonderful online show, with many things on offer including excellent courses.

‘Gift’ is a group of stitched pieces in hoops, based upon some words I’ve written. I imagine it could be called a poem.

It’s basically about appreciating and being amazed by the Earth, its immense history, its place in the Universe and so on. These themes inform much of my work. It delves into my love of living natural history, and natural history collections, and in using mixed media; the pieces are all made from appliquéd fabrics, a mix of plain, printed and hand painted, and paper, printed with my digital images.

The pieces are hand stitched and porcelain pieces and beads are used throughout. The hoops are 12 inches/30 cm, which I find a good size. There’s a good amount of space to work with, and although the stitching and beading take time, the end is always in sight since the pieces aren’t huge! I’ve been through that stage of making large scale work and I don’t think I want to re visit it soon.

The drum like and contained approach of stitching in a hoop really works for me. And they can carry a good amount of heavier media should you wish; I still want to stitch lots of pebbles onto a piece, those lovely flat ones. And sea glass too.

Here we are, above, working on the first piece, which is of course actually the 5th piece in the series. Why start at the beginning? The ideas for the other pieces evolved from this first hoop.

Below, some more materials lined up for possible inclusion. These are digitally printed papers and silk, except for that zebra stripy piece of fabric, which is a commercial fabric and I love it.

Above and below, in no particular order, as they say, more pieces in progress.

So, that’s seven so far, some more finished than others. There’s one more to go, which I’m planning to lay down later.

I’ll be painting the hoops white. When they are all done I’ll post them, in order…

It must be spring.

Since the botanical world has decided it’s time to get going, and the days are longer, it must indeed be spring. But watching our magnolias through the rather beautiful snow storms yesterday reminded me of the fickleness of this season. I love that it is, too.

However, I am also very fond of the magnolias, both of which are blooming profusely this year, so I don’t want to see the flowers shrivelled and browned. Amazingly they look ok so far; they’ve certainly stood up to those winds whipping down from the Arctic.

Our small but complex suburban garden is rather full as a result of years of my enthusiastic plant buying. It’s been taking up a lot of my time recently too, having had quite a sort out. It was good to be out in the fresh air so much; there are times when I am grateful for a complicated garden.

So creative work has been fitted in around the garden tasks, and I must admit I am so dragging my feet when it comes to finishing some bigger pieces. This week, yes this week, this one, below, will definitely be done and mounted.

It’s about 65 x 40 cm, so not that large really, but it is absorbing a lot of stitch and beading.


This piece, above, is actually finished now. Here it is in its early stages, just laid down and ready to stitch.

And all done, above. Both pieces are on felt backgrounds.

Above and below, two details. The birds are based upon Java sparrows, beautiful little birds.

I have started some new pieces that I’m hoping will go into the Festival of Quilts this year. The Festival is all set to go ahead, but if it doesn’t they will undoubtedly be holding the digital exhibition again.

I’ll write about the new work when it has progressed a little more. The artist’s book I posted about last time has had its finishing postponed. I like my books to be looked at properly and I doubt that people will be encouraged to touch. So next year perhaps.

Last week I needed some small, in front of the tv work, so quickly assembled some pieces from various squares and half – done felt experiments. The felt is purchased wool felt, I didn’t make it. Felt, as you know, is lovely and soft to stitch. My usual work is difficult to stitch by hand, yet I keep on doing it, so the felt is a wonderful relief. One day the hands will decide enough is enough!

So, as relaxing noodling along pieces, these are great to work on. The first piece started as a square but then developed onto a pebble, and others followed. I’m not sure what will happen next, I’m just working my way through them, adding hand stitch and beads. They’ll be around for a while I should think, filling in gaps between other projects.

Keep well, back soon.

More Stories.

There’s a project that I’ve been working on for some time, which existed for quite a while in one or two uncompleted forms, and last year was realised in a series of embroidered work in hoops. This is called Stories of the Lost and the Found, and was due to be shown last year at the Festival of Quilts and other venues afterwards. The pieces are based on various pieces of my writing; an autobiographical wander through the seasons, observations, and life with its attendant complexities.

I wanted to also use the images together with the text, in some way, but hadn’t moved on with the idea. But recently I decided it needed to be done, and started to make an artist’s book, with the writing and the hoop embroideries as the foundation.

I started by thinking the book would consist of collaged papers, prints and perhaps fabric, but it quickly evolved into a digital experience, using images from the hoops, other embroidered work, text, drawings, lino cuts, screen prints, other images I’ve taken, [ two of which I haven’t, credit below ] and Photoshop. I’m no wizz at Photoshop, I must point out! But I am happy with the results, and the way the pages relate to each other since I decided on just using digital techniques. The pages are designed, though, to incorporate some stitch. Not a lot, but enough to add a human, non digital touch.

Also, although I keep banging on about the book being digital, that’s just about the construction of the pages, which were then all printed out onto a mix of papers. I like paper so much, I could just collect it. The pages are A3 size, but will have to be mounted onto larger sheets of Khadi paper when I construct the book. This is to protect the more delicate papers, and so that people can actually turn the pages and look at the book. I’ll have to buy some biodegradable disposable gloves too, should the book be exhibited, to protect people, just in case, not the book. You know the way things are these days.

Here are a few of the hoops. There are 16 in the first original series, and 9 in a later series of black and white hoop pieces. The latter group wouldn’t have been at the Festival anyway, since I made them late last year, and neither of course would this book. If the festival goes ahead this year, hopefully they will all be there.

Here’s a couple of images of a few of the original ideas and materials for the pages. I eventually incorporated them digitally.

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Below, a selection of pages put together with Photoshop, and ready to be finished with stitch before being bound.

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The moth image above is one of two images that are not mine. This was a photograph taken by a friend of an Emperor moth in her garden. An amazing creature. Also, three above, the sea/beach image is my daughter’s. It’s in Wales, Tywyn or Barmouth.

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Thanks folks, more soon, hopefully of the finished book…

Moon in the blue sky.

I love to see the beauty of a translucent Moon floating in the blue sky, it’s always a gift. I’ve wanted to use this title for some time; I tend to store up and keep titles until they find a home. This piece was conceived after the first heavy-ish fall of snow we had at the start of the year and as I made it it became apparent that the title Moon in the blue sky had a destination.

I took some images of the snowy trees and garden, it was relatively early so the colours were quite dark and dramatic. I later printed them after a brief edit onto some fairly unpleasant bright white stiff silk. I have no idea where it came from, disconcertingly, but the prints were beautiful, so I think its found its purpose, at least. Typically I don’t have that much left and now wouldn’t mind some more. I used my inkjet printer, after ironing the silk onto Bondaweb, and putting sellotape along the feed edge.

We have jays visiting our winter garden, not so many lately, but in the past we’ve had a visiting pair and one, many years ago, who would take peanuts from your hand.

So I decided this piece needed a jay, especially as I had a drawing ready to go of a jay that I had never used, and I sorted out some other references too. Yes, this image was in the last post, but I thought I’d pop it into this one too, for a bit of continuity.

Above you can see the A4 sized snowy garden prints, with some thread and bead inspiration too. The little images of arches are a hedge from a garden visit, I can’t remember where, and what I think is a little stone altar, on a wall in Venice. I didn’t use these references eventually, they are saved for another day. I’ve always liked an arch.

Above, the finished piece, mixed materials on felt, 45 x 67 cm, 18 x 26 inches. I hand stitched it which did take a while, but when a piece is this sort of size manoeuvering it through the machine is unpleasantly difficult and can damage it, I’ve found.

A close up, above. The sky is indigo dyed silk. And below, a slightly closer view.

The stitching wasn’t particularly mindful or relaxing, as is the current fashion, but I didn’t think it would be. I use quite a few layers in some parts of my work and the needle doesn’t go through them with much grace. I use a sharpened bradawl to help. I’ve been doing this for years, one day I hope I will make something that is easy to hand stitch…I’m not holding my breath.

Below, an even closer view.

I have another five pieces waiting to be stitched, and no reason not to get on with them, so I’d better be off.

Thanks for reading! Look after yourselves.

The birds are back part two.

One of my intentions this year is to use materials I already have, and although my stash is small compared to many, there’s still enough to make a lot of work. I did actually decide this late last year, and although I wasn’t supposed to be buying anything new, I had a notion to use felt for some new work ideas, so naturally I had to buy some, albeit far too much. After buying it I decided it wasn’t for me, or at least the ideas weren’t for me.

It turns out that I was quite wrong. I had started to plan and make some new work, and found myself choosing the felt as the background. It’s lovely heather wool felt, and of course doesn’t fray, which makes edging really easy. I hate thinking of solutions for edging, so felt may be the chosen way for quite a while.

I am a member of Eclectica Artists, and we have regular Zoom meetings. We decided a project of sorts would be a good idea to keep us going, share developments at meetings and eventually hopefully exhibit the results. Naturally we didn’t pick a theme of any kind, as we never do, we are fully into each of us going our individual ways; we just decided to use recently taken images to work from.

I chose some images of a rose I had photographed, and did a fair amount of collage work, and some drawn ideas for applique and needlepoint pieces. I love a stripy flower.

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When I started to choose fabrics and felt, the palette reverted to was one that is basically more my normal toned down approach, except for the brighter pink I still wanted to include, below. I had wanted to use full on bright pink and acid green, but they are making a guest appearance rather than being the leading participants.

Then the subject matter veered away from roses and butterflies, and landed once again on birds. Here are three pieces, all laid down and ready to stitch. They are around 65 45 cm/26 x 18 inches.

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So these pieces were distinctly unplanned, but I believe in making what comes naturally. It may be that the more vivid pieces happen at some point, I hope so.

The recent snow inspired me to take a few photographs, and print some images on some silk. The silk was fairly horrible, very stiff, shiny and bright white. I have no idea why I bought it, but I’m glad I did, as it produced some snowy lovely tree prints. The two small images of arches were a possible idea for inclusion, which didn’t happen, but like the pink and green, may do in another piece.

Inspired by the previous flying hoopoe I wanted to do another flying bird. They both seem to flying in the same direction, so they must know something. This time I chose a jay as we often have one or occasionally two in our garden during the winter. I wanted the pink, black and white against the winter colours, and I’ll use beads to introduce the bright blue on the wings.

Now I must stop putting pieces together and actually finish them, so let’s see if that’s what the next blog is about. I have five to finish in the queue, but I may need to lay down a nice tropical bird using some of those bright colours first…

Greetings everyone.

Have the very best Christmas, Yule, winter break you possibly can folks.

Thank you too for looking at this blog throughout the year, and for all your lovely comments.

Look after yourselves, let’s all keep creating and supporting each other.

xxx