Colour and light.

The light changed a couple of weeks ago, from bland summer light one day to more considered autumnal light the next. I’ve noticed before that it can seem to be an overnight occurrence. Whilst I miss the long summer days,  I love the complexity of this light, and the cooler interludes suddenly invaded by a a few hours of hot sun before some quite wonderful clouds move in to take charge of the situation.

I was at the Festival of Quilts in August, and one of the many things I enjoyed there was stocking up on some fabrics. This was interesting, as I only intended buying calico to paint and print on. The thing is, new fabrics bring stimulation and new ideas, increase creativity and basically are just so much fun to choose and buy. To be honest I just loved buying stuff. However, it’s not just adding to my stash, honestly, my fabric supplies had gone right down to basically just some calico, and my own painted and printed fabrics, which were also quite low.

So, here’s my new fabric drawer, full of lovely raw materials for future work. I also bought more calico to use for some new painted fabric, as I always like to use personal fabrics as well as commercial fabrics in my work. There’s a mix here of Moda Grunge, Oakshott cottons, silk, felt, African and Japanese fabric, plains, and a couple of patterned pieces I liked.And probably one or two other bits of cloth I’ve missed.

So, some new work has emerged using the new fabrics, which proves, as far as I’m concerned, everything I’ve just said about increased creativity…

One of my favourite little birds, Gouldian finches, make from a mix of painted fabrics, commercial fabrics and silk organza, waiting to be hand stitched. 48 x 48 cm/19 x 19 inches.

Below, the whole piece and the stitching started.

Below, more colour with this red throated bee eater, the same size as the piece above.

I’ve used quite a lot of my pained fabrics in this piece, but the background, as in the Gouldian finch piece, is Moda Grunge fabric. This is handy fabric as it looks hand painted; I have a very small studio so it helps not to have to paint large pieces of fabric for backgrounds, I can concentrate on smaller more intense painted and printed pieces. I need more acrylic paints too, goodo, another shopping trip!

To finish, some early autumn reading. Not having been on holiday for quite a few years gives one the wonderful justification for a little book buying spree. Naturally this justification can be used indefinitely.

I saw the Opus Anglicanum exhibition in 2017, and it is one of a handful of my favourite exhibitions of all time. The book is fantastic.

Another favourite exhibition, one I saw a few years ago, was of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library. The colour and detail of the illustrations in the manuscripts and Opus Anglicanum embroidery is such an inspiration. So I went a little crazy and bought three books about medieval manuscripts; Christopher de Hamel is such a good writer, witty and erudite and addictive. The Seeds book I have wanted for ages, it is so brilliant. And lurking beneath is Dorothy Dunnett, not that we can ever accuse Dorothy of lurking. It’s the first of the House of Niccolo series. I now have all eight books, purchased by various methods, from charity shop to new, and although I have read the first two, some years ago, I’m starting at the beginning again. Got to love Dorothy, also witty, erudite and addictive.


A few more stories.

I’ve finished laying down the last few pages of my Stories project, and to keep everything as adjacent as possible, ie two posts together on the same subject, here they are.

The first three images show a variety of pages, with the final image being just one page. They are all A3.

So this project will be one I will be working on for quite a while, so probably now won’t be seen until it’s finished. How it will be displayed is something I hope will unfold as I complete the pages with stitch and so on.

I had an excellent time last week at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery. I had spent a great deal of time over the last 6 months organising this space, so was more than relieved it went so well. I would point out that other members of the group contributed too, as it is a huge undertaking.

It’s a fabulous group of very talented textile artists, and to say the stand was popular would be an understatement. Enough bigging us up, here’s a few images. There are more on our website, link below, and Facebook.

 The above two images show some of my work from the gallery, Dark Tiger, a mixed media series of panels, 2.5 m x 80 cm, and Nest, 60 cm diameter, made from various wires, stitched paper, plastic, wood, and pebbles.

All text and images, and text within the work is copyright Stephanie Redfern.


I’ve had a piece of work on my mind for absolutely ages, nagging away. It wasn’t, for some long time, a piece of work at all, but lots of jotted down and sketched out ideas, some pieces half done on textile and paper, with accompanying words. I wanted a couple of pieces to include work that isn’t brand new, but hasn’t been widely seen. The project was unwieldy.

I thought I might make the work across several formats, and went in and out of many ideas and combinations for ages. It was frustrating as I knew I wanted to make the piece but was certainly getting nowhere. It did eventually gain a title – Stories.

Eventually I decided that as a mostly orderly sort of person, I would fare better if I just decided on a format and get on with it. This decision took about 18 months…

I have some very nice Fabriano Accademia cartridge paper, A3, which is satisfyingly neat, matte, and prints nicely, in inkjet terms. I’d already made some collages using it and these will be included in the whole piece; I’ve shown them in a previous post. With this regular format I then realised the piece would just have to be a book. I haven’t decided yet whether it will be a hanging book, or a bound one. As the pages are a mix of landscape and portrait, a bound book could be interesting!

It’s based on the seasons, and these images show spring and summer. I’ll be making autumn and winter next, so all the pieces will be prepared and ready to be finished in the next stitching stage of the project, to aid continuity.

So dotted through this post so far are some of the pieces, ready to be finished with some stitch and other mixed media.

Below, a few close ups.

Naturally this won’t be the last time I blog about Stories, I have a feeling it will go on for a while. I’m a bit slow at the moment, blame the hot weather, not my favourite by any means! Cooler weather asap please, less to do in the garden and more energy all round.

For those who can visit, it’s Festival of Quilts time next week at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. It’s not all quilts though; I’m with Art Textiles: Made in Britain, and you can see our work in gallery TG13. It will be fabulous, we have some very talented members.




All images and text copyright Stephanie Redfern.

A romp through the RA.

I love the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, and this year I was lucky enough to visit it again. It’s an annual pleasure and such good fun. There’s so much to see and it’s so diverse that there’s no pressure, you’re never going to see or remember all or even a good sized part of it so you can just relax. Of course in adopting that approach you probably do actually remember more of what you’ve seen, and of course photographs help. So, here’s a shot of one of the working areas, a corridor where they store the odd statue and all the spare coat hangers, of course, as we all do. I confess to finding these behind the scenes areas as fascinating as the exhibitions at times.

In the courtyard, Anish Kapoor’s Symphony for a beloved daughter.

Grayson Perry’s yellow rooms.

Infinity by Olga Lomaka.

Anthro Earth by Jess Warby. There seemed to be more textiles in the show this year than I’d seen before, could it be Grayson Perry’s influence?

Reflections in the artist’s spectacles by Anthony Green RA.

Living by the sea, with your dog, what’s not to like. In between the islands by Jenny Wheatley.

I always enjoy some Joana Vasconcelos. This is Royal Valkyrie.

Half and half art by Russell Davies and Ben Terrett.

Europe running through my veins by Tisna Westerhof. Says it all.

Vegetable portraits, one of my favourite genres. Runner by Jane Hopper.

Above, Gnasher, and below, Rufus 3rd, by Timothy Blewitt. These were amazing pieces, attracting much attention.

This was a very large piece, Le village Hollandais by Jock McFadyen RA.

Below, loved the silver foil wall covering.

Eggy Pop by Gary Miller, and Fergus by Peter Jones.

Red bear by Debbie Lawson.

Above and below, some models from the architecture room. These always amaze me.

Centre above, a large mixed media piece by El Anatsui, Hon RA.

On the left, Maritsa by the late Gillian Ayres RA.

More general views, with below, Temporary fence by Graham Guy-Robinson.

Above and below, two enormous pieces by David Hockney, Inside it opens up as well, and, Seven trollies, six and a half stools, six portraits, eleven paintings and two curtains.

I love the wall colours the individual room curators choose, from Grayson Perry’s bright yellow, to the silver foil, pearlescent  blue in the architecture room, turquoise blue and this yummy pink.

Il letto by Geoff Uglow, above, and the sculpture is Pissenlit 3 by Amanda Benson.

Below, Young academician by Yinke Shonibare RA, followed by a view of one of the print rooms.

Well, there we are for another year. It's always tempting to give it a go and 
enter a piece of work for consideration, who knows, next year perhaps...

Dark Tiger and Nest.

I’ve been making new work for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts this August at the NEC in Birmingham. This wasn’t actually  my original plan, I was going to show some work that is in my new book, but I was waylaid by some pieces I’ve made in a sculpture class I’ve been attending at mac in Birmingham.

I decided to use the objects I’ve made to start off some new pieces for the show. The theme for the gallery is Wild, which is, as they say, right up my street.

I was planning to use plaster and other messy materials in the class, but after a rummage through the materials in the studio spotted a variety of wires.    I’ve wanted to make a giant nest for some time, but hadn’t got round to it, and without the class would never have made in with wire. I did like the result of all that twisting and weaving.

Here are some images of Nest in progress.

It started with a base of chicken wire, too which I added a mix of aluminium wires.

After the initial basic construction I brought it home to finish. I decided to use Khadi paper printed with some of my words and images and cut into leaf shapes, to line the bottom, and added some plastic leaves made from milk containers, pebbles and beads. I wanted to keep to the cool, austere palette of colours suggested by the silver wire.

The leaves and beads were stitched onto the base. I can’t pretend, this took ages and I was glad when I’d finished. The nest is about 65 cm in diameter so it was quite unwieldy, if very light.

And below, the finished nest.

The next piece that developed from the sculpture class is a series of five panels called Dark Tiger. I’d spotted some dowels in the materials cupboard, and wanted to use them for something, so started to wire them together. The resultant screens lead to Dark Tiger.

Here they are, a little pile of screens that have driven me slightly crazy by constantly entangling themselves with each other.

The designs for Dark Tiger emerged from this collage, below, that I made some weeks ago. It’s around 80 x 30 cm. I liked and wanted to use these painted and printed papers for something; it had no destination at the time. I added some black and white images of tulips, some bold stitch for texture and detail, and this was the result.

Thinking it would be ideal for the project, I photographed it, and printed various images of it onto fabric using my inkjet printer, using cotton poplin and cotton twill on a roll. This fabric is made by Blumenthal Craft. It’s really easy to use, with good colour and definition, but I did a test piece as you need to jiggle with your images to get exactly what you want.

 Some of the printed fabrics, and also some images and drawings of mine I printed out too; these didn’t make the edit for this piece.After constructing the five panels using appliqué, I machine stitched them, and added many beads and some hand stitch.

Above, a close up of one of the panels, and below, the centre finished panel, mounted onto the wooden frame. The tiger is from one of my drawings, she’s had a prowl through Photoshop. The frames have been inked black with Indian ink, and the stitched textile panel was mounted onto a double layer of A3 Khadi paper, also inked black. There has been much use of my bodger, or bradawl to give it it’s proper name.

The screen will be about 2.5 metres in length. I’ll be working on it at the Creative Craft Show this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the NEC, Birmingham.

Sue Bibby and I are sharing stand E28, and it looks as if it’s going to be a great show, with lots of textile artists and suppliers, so come if you can.

If you don’t like the heat it’ll be really cool too, the NEC has great air conditioning.


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A blog post without an image seems weird, so here’s a gentle summery picture, one I made earlier.


Scissor action part 2.

Working with collage has been one of my favourite ways of exploring and planning new work for a very long time. This is how I start, below, by basically getting out far too many papers and mixed materials. Generally I then begin to put groups of related materials together, and that will either spark ideas, or furnish ideas I already have.

I usually make the collages as preparation for work in other media, namely textiles, artist’s books and needlepoint, but lately some pieces have branched out and declared independence.

I began this piece, above, with the intention of making just one collage based upon spring. I then decided to use the text in another piece, and also liberally took the scissors to the coloured papers; this caused it to develop into five pieces, echoing, I like to think, the generosity and vitality of the season. Many enjoyable hours were spent in digital experiment using some of my images taken in museums and gardens, and in printing out more papers, even though I had planned to use what I already had. This plan nearly always fails.

The finished pieces are all A3 size, and although I planned to print them digitally onto fabric, I like the flat crisp appearance of the paper pieces, so I reckon these are the finished pieces now. It’s possible I may add some long metallic thread stitches, through some pre-made holes; there is a nice little Japanese tool available for this, and I am tempted to buy one.

I placed 3d objects on the collages too, which would work interestingly should the pieces ever become digitally printed textile works. If they were printed onto fabric I feel they would work best if they were quite large, perhaps about 2 m wide. It’s a thought.

Onto some collages now that I think would work as textile pieces at exactly the size they are, which is about 65 x 55 cm. I like them as paper pieces too though, and like the collages above I placed some 3d objects on the first piece.


They definitely need more fine detail, for which stitch would be ideal. The collage below isn’t yet stuck down, and has no 3d additions as yet. This was entirely inspired by the acrylic painted and printed papers.

I’m using the scraps in an accordion Moleskine pad, as you can see at the top of the image.

I’m very fond of this one, above, basically because I love a black background, and it’s based on fossils. It’s a little bigger than A3, and I think could be a versatile chap, in that I would quite like to see it digitally printed, with machine and hand stitch stitch added. It would make an interesting needlepoint too.

These two collages above are now stuck down, and as they are on Khadi paper I am going to machine stitch them, photograph them with some added 3d pieces such as wood and shells, then print them onto fabric and see what happens next. It’s a convoluted project that I’m letting unfold; I possibly have some sort of constructed screen in mind.

Thanks for getting this far, nearly there now. I have been mentioning my book over the past couple of years on this blog, and it’s now available, published by Search Press, and Amazon are willing to sell you a copy should you fancy it.

Back to work on those collages, I’m running out of glue.