Experimenting with pattern in Wolverhampton.

I taught a very enjoyable workshop on Saturday with the  Wolverhampton branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild; it was good to see some students who have been to other classes I have taught and new people too. They were  all committed and hard working, and as you will see below produced a wonderful range of work. We worked with individual source material, converting elements of it into simple shapes which which to design pieces of work. We also experimented with juxtaposing various patterned fabrics and papers, to create vibrant and dynamic work, as well as placing the elements within a space, thus working with pattern in two ways.

The group took on the free floating pattern based idea of the class really well too; we were discussing that there must be a simple description of such a use of pattern that is not an actual regular repeat, but has related elements floating in a space; there’s bound to be a Japanese word, I’m sure.

IMG_1041 Here’s a general view of the class followed by individual works in progress.















Many thanks to you all and I hope to see all the finished work sometime in the future.

Some more mess and thank you for the window.

I’m working here in one of the few windows of opportunity allowed us by BT, who are still not managing to get our broadband sorted, and indeed have even added landline breakdown to their list of incompetences. Considerably worse things can happen in life however, so let’s get on with it.

I’ve been finishing and moving on with several pieces of work this week; samples and work for a show next year, as well as some pages for my new book. I admit to not finishing my Summer book, started last year, but I think this is probably because I have changed my mind about some of the pages, and after writing this I’m aiming to get it all out and sort exactly which pages I will use in the new book. I have made some new pages already, so something has to go!

The new book is called ‘From the Bright Sky’, and will feature aspects of the natural world, and a bit of the Universe too, so not much work to do there then. Where’s Brian Cox when you need him?



So here we are at the start of a couple of pages for the book. So far it is in absolutely no order whatsoever, mainly because soon I will be teaching a few courses on pattern and the use of patterned surfaces, and one in mixed media, so whilst I have been making examples, using as wide a range of materials as possible, these have also been real work. For the pages I had in mind I wanted to use a pattern of squares, in a variety of materials, in monochrome. Above are some of the materials, a mix of fabric, paper, printed acetate and photographs.



And all sorted and in the process of being cut up. I drew a Baroque style apple and pear, and used the bird I have used in an autumn piece recently, which is at the end of this post, too.


Deciding what paper/fabric/whatever to use with what image is always involving, and it’s good to use material you already have too.


The two pages. They are about 75 x 55 cm each, so it’s another of those big books. It will have to be the last one of this size, as we have a small house with no more room!


There are metallic fabrics, photographs of bark and a little ceramic chap I made ages ago, dragonfly images, and a beetle drawing on acetate, amongst other things.


Now they need to be stitched, and find their place in the book.


Another book page, laid down and ready to finish, using a mix of fabrics printed with thermofax screens, anaglypta wallpaper and blocks.

Below are a two finished pieces which will be in an exhibition next year, at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists galleries.


This one is untitled as yet. It’s 70 x 45 cm.

And the one below has already been featured, but now has additions. This is because I have many frames I want to use, and although I am now making some new work which will fit them, this one was made before I decided to use these frames, so I added a predella, and some gold leaf. It’s about 75 x 55 cm in size.



I’ve just been doing a blog cruise, a catch up, and have noticed via Laura’s [ Kemshall ] blog that she has set up a blog for Through Our Hands, which features loads of information about textile matters, shows etc, and also the Through Our Hands Portfolio, which is gorgeous, so go and have a look!

Order and chaos.

I’ve been working with some of the new fabrics I printed and painted a couple of weeks ago during the Open Studio event at the Bramble Patch in Northamptonshire. It was very enjoyable to trawl through the fabrics, and I was pleased that the Setacolour I used for printing with my thermofax screens had become even crisper and more defined as it had cured over a few days.

The main problem is with some of these fabrics is that I don’t want to cut them up; this is a pest as my work is based upon cutting fabric and paper up, to basically make collage to which I add stitching. I’m working on a new way of treating these pieces, but one or two others have been sort of partially cut up. I have been making some new work that will be part of a new artist’s book, but in the meantime will also be earning its keep as samples for a series of courses I am teaching over the next couple of weeks, based upon pattern and the use of simple shapes, repeated within a space.

I love images of peoples’ messy studios, so here are a couple of my work area, when everything was out and being sorted through. I do have the habit of having several ideas [ which of course I think are all marvellous at the time ] as I go through fabric, and bundling the relevant pieces up, thus producing enough possible projects to keep me going for quite a few years. I’ll never learn.

DSC_0115The trouble is when you cover all the available surfaces, there’s nowhere else to go. There was stuff on the sofa, a chair and the top of a long box I keep quilts in too.

DSC_0116It took me ages to sort it and decide what to use. I had a good old de clutter of fabric earlier this year, so at least there is a bit of space to keep the new stuff, but room for more is at a premium. My daughter is getting into digital art and I can see the attraction. Below are a few of the new fabrics, they need ironing, sorry about that.











DSC_0111These two chaps seem to crop up in a lot of the work, and I thought I was using a big variety of screens. I think you just get paint left on the screen and carry on using it up, starting a new piece, then having to add more paint to finish that piece.

DSC_0114I chose this fabric, with some others, to make a page for the book, and as a sample in pattern, or at least the way I use pattern. It wasn’t the best piece to leave as a whole cloth, so cut up was an ideal background.

DSC_0127Here is the completed piece; I added applique birds and other shapes, and it will be machine and hand stitched. Its about 70 x 50 cm.

DSC_0125This is its companion piece, they will probably be opposite each other in the book, as a double page spread.

DSC_0129And this is another piece I made, putting appliqué shapes onto a whole cloth printed background. This is 80 x 40 cm.

I’ve just finished this piece too; its making and how I made it will be featured in Maggie Grey’s Workshop on the Web.

DSC_0086It’s 75 x 35 cm.

To finish, phew, there are a lot of images here, are some other sample pieces to take to the pattern courses. Some have been around for a couple of years, but I’ve backed them and will actually get around to stitching them next week.

The first, below, is a new one though, which is constructed on 20 x 20 cm squares of black felt, using a mix of printed fabrics and mixed media, such as papers and metal, so this will do nicely for the pattern course and a mixed media course that’s coming up soon too. Just need to get on with stitching it…

DSC_0120And these pieces are older revitalised work, or repurposed, as is said, these days.






Coming soon, more mess; I’ve just photographed the early stages of the construction of another double page spread for the book, before and after I sorted the pile of ‘useful’ stuff I had hoarded for such an occasion. Digital art, bring it on.

Demo days are over, well, until next year.

It seems ages ago we agreed to do a three day demonstration during the Bramble Patch Open Studios event, which encompassed the whole of August. But, as life does, it galloped towards us at speed, and now it’s over, and we are back there next year too.

Hilary Beattie and I printed, painted and talked for 3 days, and were rather thrilled by the large amount of people who dropped by; many thanks to you all. Proceeds from the exhibition entry  fee and the charge for tea, coffee and biscuits are all donated to Macmillan Cancer Care by the Bramble Patch, and I should think it will be a good amount. It was a good time, much enjoyed by both of us.

So, a few images, of our studio, which was in the cafe area, and the exhibition. We have no images of us in action, as we didn’t have time to take any, so these were taken just after we arrived in the early morning.

IMG_0910Our demo area, which looks considerably more orderly than it actually was.

The fact Below, all the screens I failed to get around to using, hopefully laid out, well, plonked on the floor.


IMG_0909Some of my day one products, calico and cotton after printing with thermofax screens and then painted with procion dyes.

IMG_0915The Beatster, surrounded by but a small amount of the work she produced. Below, some of my finished cloth.




IMG_0934I have enough to keep me going for quite a while, especially as I am making an effort to reduce the size of my work. Or I could just give in and make ever larger pieces.

IMG_0931An aerial veiw of the show, which Hilary and I shared with Jan Hassard, who isn’t afraid to make large wonderful colourful quilts, as you can see below.


IMG_0929Some of Hilary’s pieces, below, too.


And some of mine.


IMG_0917The exhibition is over now, and the rooms are back to normal, ready for the classes to start again. Check the website if you fancy a class there, it’s a great place, with a lovely atmosphere and a brilliant shop. Hilary is teaching several courses, some of which include painting, dyeing and printing fabric and papers, which are ideal to build up some personal materials.

I’m teaching two more there this year, both in November; click on the link to the Bramble Patch for extra information. Into the Rainforest, is a course using elements of rainforest imagery, and painted and printed materials produced during the course. It’s good for beginners and the more experienced student, and will be ideal for those unsure of how to move from original idea through the stages of designing and constructing a piece of work. This one is on November 1st and 2nd, and promises to be colourful.

My second course is Thrift and Alchemy, in which we will be using and re -purposing fabrics and other materials to make work from personal references. It’s good for all levels, and much enjoyment will be had using all those interesting bits and pieces we all collect. I count using all those fabrics and papers we already own as recycling too, and there will be painting, printing and collage involved, as well as stitch, and help for anyone who is unsure of how to progress with an idea. This course takes place on November 15th and 16th.

Festival of Quilts.

All over with for another year, sadly, and what a good time it was. I’ve booked again for next year, I can’t not be part of it. I’ve tidied away my stand accoutrements, well until next Spring actually, when I’m off to Embroidery and Fashion/ Sewing for Pleasure,  also at the NEC.

Here’s a round up, of the Festival in general, and some images of quilts, the latter all by people I know, to save all that asking for permission bother and taking weeks to do the blog. Also time was short so I had to operate a system of a few short whizzes around the halls, generally before the show started, but they were all amongst my favourites anyway.


Edwina MacKinnon.


Catherine Nicholls.


Jackie Amies; this won second prize in the Contemporary section.


Hilary Beattie, as you can see, Highly Commended, and chosen by the judges. And here she is, below, unable to open her eyes through either tiredness or excitement.



Jill Exell, first prize Art Quilts.


Ineke Berlyn.


Sue Bibby.


Pauline Barnes, another second prize winner, in the Art Quilts section.


Annabel Rainbow’s wonderful studio set in the ‘Through our Hands’ gallery.


Laura Kemshall, also from the above gallery. The piece on the left is a painting, on the right, a quilt.


And her mum, Linda Kemshall.


Me again, ‘Beach Thoughts’, this time.


My daughter Chloe’s work, and her little horse, below, which was in the Quilt Creations section, and is shortly going to live in Suffolk.



And the lovely Pauline Burbidge, an inspiration over the years to me and many others.


My stand, showing my 12 part ‘Found’ piece, on its first outing.



And to finish off, a few general views of the show.






There’s one of my old boys on the Bernina stand, ‘Elemental’, I get to see it every year. All the runners up in the Quilter’s Guild competition go to Bernina, who sponsor the prize, so we see them displayed each year. The rest of the time they live in London, which I quite fancy myself.

Buds and new work.

I think I have all the stuff sorted now to take to the Festival of Quilts, except for some embroidered cards to make up. I’m putting that job off by writing this blog entry, card sticking being the least favourite of my jobs. Our ‘kitchen’ is the largest room in the house, comprising of a small cooking and so on area, my studio at the end, and the in between room with the sofa, etc. This area is now full of things to take, quite neatly arranged, I must say, but comprising a worrying volume.

As a break from preparations last week, before the continual rain started, I was in the garden looking at buds. I do love a bud, they are so perfect and promising; I’ve been known to frequently fondle a green tulip bud. Here are a few images, followed by some new textile work I have ready to get started on. I may even have a little experiment with it this afternoon, but actually I can’t wait until Wednesday to get to the NEC and get going.







DSC_0020Three stages of a hoya flower.


Pineapple lily, eucomis bicolour. Looks wonderful, smells terrible. Apparently it’s pollinated by a selection of flies attracted to carrion. This is obvious as the rather lovely star like flowers, when they are out, are frequently covered by a smattering of ugly flies. Best viewed on a damp day when there is less smell and few flies, in my opinion. Love the spotted stems though, they’ll be in a piece of work before long.

The new work is based on the aralia in our front garden, from photographs taken in the opposite season to the above, winter. From a couple of images I did some working drawings and collages in a new long landscape sketch pad. I chose elements I particularly liked to work with, notably the white stems and the pale berries, and then played with scale, and some layout and colour ideas.










The new pad is looking suitably handled and useful already.

I have chosen some fabrics, and tried an initial layout, below, and will make thermofax screens of the large berry drawings to use on the fabrics too. I was intending to make considerably smaller pieces, but this has grown to about 1.5 m by 60 cm already. I may make some small pieces as little satellites. I am also trying to plan a book so this may be included in one of the chapters.



Off to stick those cards now.

Six and Friends at Minerva, Wales.

When the exhibition schedule for our show ‘Orientation’ was organised and announced by Linda and Laura, this Summer Show in Wales seemed ages away. Well, the show has been open for a couple of weeks now, and we had our Meet the Artists day on Sunday. Llanidloes is a lovely little town, beautiful and peaceful on a Sunday afternoon.

Minerva Gallery is quite a gem, I’ve been to shows there in the past, and they hung and presented our show beautifully; so many thanks to them for that, and indeed to Linda and Laura for organising Orientation in the first place. It was a fun afternoon with lovely food, good company, and lots of visitors too.

IMG_0755In the main gallery, which was showing Canadian Red cross quilts made for British families during the Second World War.

And below, Orientation, with artists and visitors.

IMG_0721Ineke and Hilary.

IMG_0723Annabel and fans.

IMG_0725Linda’s work with Laura’s at the end.

IMG_0724Two admirers of Hilary’s work.

IMG_0727Some of Catherine’s pieces.

IMG_0730Edwina’s sushi pieces.

IMG_0731Edwina herself.

IMG_0732Hilary demonstrating to an appreciative audience.

IMG_0736Above and below, my work; Floating Gardens and detail of Li Carpet.

S.Redfern   Li 1   30 x 30 cm small

IMG_0752Catherine’s bamboo piece.

IMG_0751One of Laura’s origami pieces.

IMG_0749Above and below, Linda’s design work and detail of her crane.


IMG_0747A close up of Edwina’s sushi piece.

IMG_0745Annabel’s work.


One of Hilary’s new pieces.


A close up of Ineke’s work.


One of Marie’s lovely dolls.