Decisions, decisions.

I’m finding it’s time for a rethink of my working practices, most notably sorting out that which I don’t want to do, and also that which I have started, and don’t want to finish.

I have a habit of enthusiastically blogging projects when I start them, and in most cases the work is finished in due course. There are always some things that have to be let go, even though I generally will keep them for a while, get them out every so often, convince myself that of course I want to finish them, and then put them away again.

Two such things are the piece ‘In the blue forest’, my last blog entry, which was ages ago. I used to blog very regularly, but as we all know life has a way of stepping in and using our energies in other ways. I like blogging, so will be more persistent in bringing it back into my life.

‘In the blue forest’ then, started, much fondled, happily discarded. Too big and too draining. Like wise my old pal the  stuffed 3 d raven, from an older post. I loved the idea of him being finished, but came to one day and realised that it wasn’t going to be me who would finish him. He’s unstuffed now, but I still have two flat raven shaped pieces of him.

One or two other pieces have gone a similar route, and I would recommend it if you are bogged down with work you think you ‘should’ finish, but that leaves you slightly depressed when you actually think about doing that. I always think the work that is right for you is that which gets you out of bed in the morning at the thought of it, that you could actually start to do without doing all the things you need to do before you get to do the things you really want to; the work that really excites you.

So I’m spending a little more time sorting and clearing. It gives me brain space, I notice more is what is going on around me, it cheers. I love that people can work in what I view as chaos, who are unaffectedly surrounded by many projects in progress. I used to be more like that, but no longer; we are just all different, and sometimes we change.

I am still working on a selection of needlepoints, and loving it. This one has had a rest due to  other work having to take precedence, but I’m back with it now. This piece is about 40 cm wide.



Unrolling it for the photograph shows I haven’t done as much of it as I thought I had…


Much as I enjoy looking at images on the internet and reading articles, I still love books more. I’m digging out some old favourites, and enjoying a new addition here too.


I bought the Dorothy Tucker book years ago, in a book sale. It’s a gem, with a wonderful mix of work, it just gets me every time. I’ve decluttered a few books over time, and this one has never been on the exit pile.

Celebrating the Stitch helped hugely in setting me on my textile path. It’s still relevant, absolutely full of good stuff, including D R Wagner’s amazing work, a piece of which you can see on the cover. And to further my interest in all things yarn based, Tapestry A Woven Narrative is a recently purchased luscious commentary on contemporary weaving.

More inspirational books next time perhaps.




In the blue forest.

I bought a selection of patterned fabrics at the Festival of Quilts in August, and have started to put a piece of work together using them. This is quite a new thing for me, and I certainly enjoyed choosing them. But as you will see the character of them changed slightly as the piece developed…


Here they are. I’ve started to cut them up and arrange them, experimenting with shape and layout. There are one or two prints, of birds and a chameleon, which I decided not to use. I wasn’t sure what I was aiming for at this point, but was interested to see what happened.

I enjoy writing the occasional haiku, so whilst working with the fabrics I decided to write a few words, and so the piece started to come together. This frequently seems to be the way I work now, with text informing the development of the work.

There are seven haiku now, which I did want to include with the piece, but it’s more likely they will be shown separately.


I need a longer table.



The fabrics are lovely but needed softening and personalising. I used white acrylic paint, which I brushed and printed on to the piece after it was constructed on some calico backing. Once a fabric painter, always a fabric painter, it seems.



I don’t usually work with blue, but I love indigo and the soft blues in this piece. And birds always invite themselves along…


I did intend to hand stitch the whole thing, but kept putting it off. I decided this was because I didn’t actually want to, so out came the machine. I like the machine stitched line though, it suits the work, and I will add hand stitched detail in different threads, without the pressure to cover the whole piece.


Back to the machining!


A new needlepoint.

I haven’t finished the needlepoint I have been working on recently just yet. I always seem to need to start another just before I do; it’s almost as if it just forces me into the final stretch, eventually.

I think it’s mainly because I need a change of colour palette to work with, needlepoint being, as we know, not the speediest medium. I have no idea why I like doing it, I am quite an impatient and fast moving person. It’s probably the tapestry/digital look, and working with new and luscious materials too. Also, once you have done the design, you just get on with it, so it is quite versatile in terms of listening to stuff, glancing at the tv frequently, and peacefully plodding on.

Having said that, I have done some unpicking already on this one, since I keep trying to include some black, as is my usual wont, and the piece keeps saying no. Unpicking takes longer than stitching; I’ve put the black wool away now, so it no longer tempts me.


Initial sketches.


I drew the design freehand onto some paper, then basically cut the shapes out and draw around them on the canvas.


Above, the piece drawn out on the canvas.  The large leaves on the left will actually be quite pale and ghostlike against the background, and I’ve already, during the stitching process, begun to eliminate those borders around the hill shape. I want the piece to have a sense of space.                                                    It’s about 1.25 m x 70 cm.


Whilst choosing the materials, I realised that this bowl, which is on top of the plan chest where I keep the yarn, was exhibiting some similar colours to the ones I had chosen. I have since decided not to use the blue and the black, but the bowl has influenced me, and I will include some orange.


There’s wool, linen and wool mix, which I love, although it’s not that easy to stitch with, and bamboo.


Above and below, some stitching in progress. Love the little monkey face.




I’d like to say watch this space, but only if you absolutely have nothing else to do; this one is going to take some time.

Walking in Venice, an artist’s book.

I posted an image from an artist’s book I made in 2014, on Instagram, so here, for those who may be interested, is the rest of the book. It’s mixed media, using photographs I took in Venice, some of them digitally altered and printed on different papers, with fabric, machine and hand stitch. It’s mounted on 30 cm diameter Khadi paper.53

The cover, superimposed on a view of part of Venice, actually quite a lot of it, from the ‘plane.


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If you’ve read Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers, you have to visit this square and the Chiesa dell’ Angelo Raffaele. When we went it was very quiet, and just starting to rain.





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I’ve just started a new artist’s book, it’s going through a complex gestation, but is slowly coming together. Posting Walking in Venice here has made me consider another circular book, so that’s moved things on a little too, happily.

On not mono tasking.

I have read several articles and blog posts recently about how multi tasking is just plain bad and not at all good for you. Well, it seems sometimes there isn’t any choice, especially when cooking for instance, unless microwaving something in a packet is on the menu.

When it comes to work projects there is a choice; I try very hard to do one thing at a time, but never succeed. I’m not sure why, as part of me wants things to be simple, i.e. the mono work life, one project at a time, or always producing the same sort of work in the same medium, but the rampant brain always wins, and conjures up a few other projects to throw into the mix, or indeed to make the mix.

I can’t ignore these projects, I am putty in the hands of this other character that resides within. So, at the moment I am making a new artist’s book, as shown in previous posts. This is of a slowish evolution; the narrative is developing now, so I have an idea of what is going to happen. I don’t push it, I just have an idea every so often, and jot it down on random bits of paper. This morning something came into my head as I was eating cereal, and yesterday it was when I was peeling carrots.

So it looks as if it’s all food related then; fear not, the story contains no cooking or food related story line, it must simply be a default dreaming state for my brain. I’ve no idea why, I am certainly not thrilled by peeling carrots, although they look quite pleasantly tidy when they are done.

Other times I can get a few lines drift into my head when I am out on a walk. This is much more acceptably poetic, of course. I generally have forgotten them by the time I am home. I will take a notebook in future and look quite eccentric as I plod our suburban streets, stopping every so often to write something down.

So, there’s the artist’s book, and the needlepoint, which stalled a little as I was writing  a book for Search Press, the first draft of which is now done. I hope my editor isn’t overwhelmingly bewildered when she opens that document.

As you can see here, the needlepoint hasn’t raced ahead. That’s not the nature of needlepoint though, and as an excuse I did make lots of new work for the above book. Not needlepoint, I must point out, that would take years at the speed I go at it.


Below, I can never resist a close up of needlepoint, it’s so digital.


Then there is this new chap. I started him last summer, 2015 that is, not the one that’s just gone. He is a rather large textile raven. He had been put away, but won’t let himself be forgotten, so I have decided to finish him. It will take time, as he intends to have quite elaborate wings and tail, and body too I imagine. As usual I will be making it up as I go along.

Don’t worry, this isn’t him, it’s just a cotton experiment to sort how the pattern I had designed would work.





There he is perched in the window. He is actually stuffed but looks flat in this image. He is made from felt and has a large polystyrene ball inside, with wooden legs pushed into it. He is not himself just yet, more work will need to be done.

He is stable but more work will be done on his legs too, and feet will need to be added. The wings and tail have been cut out; I’m just about to dig them out of the drawer to continue with them. He’s 57 cm long from beak to tail, and will get bigger I imagine, when his tail feathers are added, and his beak finished properly.

Some years ago I made some large ceramic ravens, and there are ravens in an artist’s book I made called The Stone Bird, so they are all based upon each other. Here are the ceramic ravens, with their nest and egg, photographs of photographs, but clear enough I think.



So it seems that mono tasking with my work isn’t ever going to be on the cards. And that’s fine, as I think you must simply do what you have to do and make sure you enjoy doing it.






I’ve started work on my new artist’s book this week, using the images and materials, with a few additions of some of my painted fabrics, shown in my last post.

I actually had no idea of what the book was going to be about, and indeed it is still very much a work in progress, but it seems that it will involve trees, memory, doorways, quite a lot of stonyness and some text. And a boat, and mountains, probably. So it’s development has been kicked off by just making a piece of work, based upon an image that I like. Sometimes, in fact perhaps all the time, that’s the way to get going.

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This photograph of a little doorway at Castell y Bere in Wales is an image I’ve wanted to work with for some time. This wonderful ruined castle, built in the 1220s by Llywelyn the Great, is on a rocky outcrop in the Dysynni Valley. The area is astonishingly beautiful.

So here’s my piece based upon this doorway, using some richly coloured fabrics in keeping the illuminated manuscript influence that’s also in the air with this project.


The piece laid out, with some threads. I didn’t use the heavier threads that much, as the piece really needed quite subtle stitching, to maintain a strong graphic quality.


The finished piece, on an experimental background, and Khadi paper. It needs ironing. I think I have decided to make this into a hanging book; I’m not sure how many pages yet.

And below, some close ups.dsc_0123


I’ll finish this page, and think about some text. Even though it’s a hanging book it will be a double page spread, so will have an accompanying page, with text and most probably an image or two.

I have some text ready for a piece involving rowans, so that will be my next piece, I think.

A fabric digression.

During my breaks from stewarding the Art Textiles:Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts last month, I found myself buying patterned fabric. This was unusual, as I don’t use patterned commercial fabric, and I had decided at the start of the show that there was nothing I really needed to buy.

Well, the part of my brain that made those somewhat flimsy but sensible decisions, and the part of my brain that just changes all such plans and does whatever it wants to never seem to actually join up, so I came home with a small but satisfying stash of new fabrics. These will be used in conjunction with my acrylic painted and printed fabric, and now the maverick brain is enjoying itself and coming up with some ideas for new work.


So here’s a little run through of the fabric. It was actually wonderful and necessary therapy buying it, as was being at the show. These cottons above remind me of some of the rich jewel tones found in illustrated manuscripts, so that may be the direction in which the new work will move.


I also liked these linens. I’ll undoubtedly use them with my painted and printed fabrics; there’s some acrylic painted calico and black cotton here, and a tiny piece of green – grey acrylic printed cloth.


Some Swedish linen threads, also with indigo and hemp fabrics from the Burmese Aid Charity stand.


And some African fabrics from The Gambia, dyed with kola nut and indigo.


Trying out some combinations here. Linen and hemp fabric, gem stone beads, patterned Indian fabric from my collection. I love playing around with this sort of exercise, it’s both good fun and creatively useful.


More experimenting with patterned and painted fabric combos, with wooden beads and gem stone beads.


Trying out some mulberry bark too.


Black fabric printed with a thermofax screen, and some gorgeous African glass beads.


Some simple neutrals.


Cotton, gemstone beads, acrylic painted fabric and mulberry bark.


Cotton, painted fabric, wooden beads, mulberry bark.

So a sort of decision may have been made, in that I would like to use these in conjunction with acrylic painted and printed fabrics, using illustrated manuscripts as a stimulus. It will almost certainly be an artist’s book.

With that in mind, I scrolled through some images on my computer, just seeing what spoke to me. Here are some of them, starting with seven images of  Wales taken on various holidays. Don’t worry, I know they don’t relate to the fabric colours in a particularly consistent way, except for the red boat; it’s more about shapes, illustration and emotion.





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I’ve used the beach and pebble images in pieces before, but have long wanted to use my other images of Wales; I have many more…

And a few other images I would like to work with, chosen just because they seem right. Still quite stoney, except for the plant at the end, which I like for its flower shapes.

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For images of the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery, click on the link in the list to the right.