Friday, September 28, 2007

Chilling out at the seaside

Have taken a few days out and stayed at the seaside. Lovely break, and schnauzer certainly enjoyed waking up every morning to a field full of rabbits. He had a wonderful holiday... thanks for asking. I did too... managed to get a little sketching done, and some work in my sketchbook. So a good break.

Thats Wales, across the sea in the far distance. I loved being the only ones on the beech, and dogs are allowed as well in this particular area. Great.

The local stone is a wonderful warm pink colour, and so is the earth in the fields in the area. Quite a contrast to the chalky hills of limestone we are used to..

The boats in the Marina were quite varied, the sea air was bracing and cold. Certainly blew the cobwebs out of my head. Well back to the sewing machine and then a weekend at Urchfont.... More later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Busy Stitching and drawing and .........

Thought I would just post a pic today from my cubism series.... am trying to get ready for a Urchfont at the weekend... loads of last minute ideas, and so am trying to get my head down and work.......... don't laugh... I'm really trying!
Had a great committee meeting yesterday for the new -Great Western Embroiderers - group. (visit my webpage on the sidebar for an invite)..... those of you coming to the next meeting on October 9th.... will have lots of treats in store.
Back to work.........................

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cat Napping

You probably think I have been cat napping over the past few days, due to the lack of blog entries.

I'm afraid you would be wrong........have done lots of embellishing and stitching. However this has been interupted by having to look after the ageing moggy. At 17, she has gone deaf recently, but when she started squeaking instead of shouting at me, I became concerned, and so took her for a check up. I thought it might be the end..... but no.... the vert says for her age she is fine... albeit deaf and her voice is going too. Nothing wrong with eyesight or nose. Vet's advice.. indulge her ... feed her watever she wants. Think the old lady heard that all right! However her mouse catching days are over..... much to the relief of the local vermin... she was very efficient.

She does like to sleep a great deal now, in my studio, under the printer. The Siamese sleeps on top of the printer, its a bit like bunk beds for cats.

However as usual I digress....... have been trying to get back into making simple stab books for the W & G stitching and rust dyeing I spoke of earlier.... I'm getting there. I have finished this one off... its one of those dreaded UFO's .... I had finished the others. Now there are 3.

Have also finished this small piece of hand stitching - just for fun. Its the colours that appeal to me .
I attended a lovely meeting today with like minded artists, and we are exhibiting together in Bridport Arts Centre in March next year. I will remind you nearer the time.. don't worry. I have some work I would like to show, and lots of ideas in my sketchbook to develop it further. Isn't it exciting?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Creativity and an article in the local paper

My working desk is in a real muddle, feel there ought to be a sign on my door.. " Danger -- artist at work" .Here is photo of the "day" work - in progress... all colour and mess.

As a comparison here is the "night" work... I can sit and do it in front of the TV, if I want to, that is. Its all neat and tidy stuff- and compact.

I missed out on doing my own work last night, reason being, I had 2 meetings to attend. One about the future of the Arts organisations in our area, and the other was the local Embroiderers Guild meeting. We had a good talk by a local spinner, weaver and braider. Really enjoyed the evening.

I was also given a copy of the local paper, last Friday they had published an article about the new group I have been setting up (link here) I had an interview last Wednesday. Michelle the reporter has written a lovely piece. Many thanks Michelle. Normally I would give you an online link to the paper.... unfortunately I do not think there is one. So I have carefully photographed the article. if you click on the photo it will enlarge for you, and hopefully you will be able to read her work.
Thank goodness she did not come round here with a camera.... the mess my studio is in!! Well Michelle, I have found my creativity... but where the heck did I put my scissors!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rust meets Slate

I have been busy stitching my rust fabrics (see previous post) with my Willcox and Gibbs machine, it just loves metallic thread, in this case bronze. It just seemed right today to introduce my piece of rust work to the slate that Clyde gave me yesterday. Just love the colours together.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Knitting & Stitching Show at NEC Birmingham

Decided to take the coach for this trip to the K & S show, it was lovely to be driven, and beautiful weather. I like traveling by coach, you can see so much more of the countryside. Today it was so clear. This is the River Severn... running alongside the M5. I am not sure which county we were in, maybe Gloucester shire.

I had worked out everything I wanted to see and had made a small shopping list ( please note small!) First port of call was the Bernina stand, but the foot I wish to get.... will have to order it. All sold out. Shame.

So then I went along to the Val Campbell- Harding Exhibition, Jane Lemon and Maggie Grey have done a wonderful job of the display.
It is excellent. I was really excited about it and looking forward to seeing the work all together, and it was one of the reasons I wished to go to the NEC. However I was not prepared for my reaction at all, it really took me by surprise..... I became very emotional. I realised how fortunate I have been, to have handled and talked to her about many of the exhibits on show today. Very humbling. Huge thank you to Jane, who took me to one side and talked about the new group GWE, and that helped to bring my emotions back under control.
Next stop ..along to Myfanwy.. and here I needed to supplement my stash of machine threads...Myfanwy had all the colours I needed. Also went along to another trader and have bought some moonshadow spray, and some more lutrador to play with - so exciting. Neither were on my shopping list.. whoops!

I then looked at Suhandan Ozay exhibition of Turkish shoes, which she makes.... they are brilliant. They are wedding shoes from the "dowry trunk"

In the entrance to the NEC were some large sculptural columns, quite amazing, made by Helene
Soubeyran, and she has kindly given me permission to show the photo on my blog. These are all her past works... squashed into columns..... amazing.

Spent some more money on stuff that was on my shopping list, that always feels better.
After a cup of tea in the refreshment area, I went back to see Maggie Grey...she was not quite so busy, and she showed me the piece of work she has created over the last 3 days at the K & S... and apologies Maggie I have forgotton the title of it. I have to say the textures are wonderful, and yes, folks she is missing blogging!! See her blog ..Here

I know she will be chatting to you on her blog about the show, as soon as she get's back, and I am sure you will remind me of the title too, Maggie.

Here's a closer look....... of the embellished fabric.

I had a wonderful chat with Audrey Walker at the 62 stand, and was so pleased to finally have met her. Later when I went along to Clyde Oliver's exhibition space ( Embroiderers Guild scholar) Audrey was there chatting to Clyde. He was explaining his present work with shadows, and I felt quite privileged to have visited his blog and so could understand his work. His ideas are brilliant. Have a look at his blog here. Well worth the visit.

His exhibition space was most inspiring, I just love the colour of the slate he works with.
On the journey home I could not help myself.. My thoughts had been deeply influenced by the idea of shadows after listening to Clyde talk to Audrey.I kept watching the shadow of the coach.... how it had no respect for any surface... it always appeared.... except on water. Fascinating..... try watching shadows.

Here's the shadow of the coach along the M40 motorway. Food for thought?
If you have the opportunity to go to the K & S . You will not be disappointed. The next one is at Ally Pally in October, and on the Saturday I shall be there at the CTDG stand.... please say hello.

Friday, September 14, 2007

PV for Abingdon Exhibition

With an invitation to a private view clutched in my hand, I was not to be disappointed. The exhibition of "Still Life in Stitches"is well worth a visit, if you are in the area of Abingdon. It is taking place in Abingdon County Museum, which in itself is quite a unique museum. Right in the centre of the road, it is a lovely space, and if you take any car enthusiasts with you, the top floor of the Museum features the MG car factory, which as you know was in Abingdon.

It was pleasant going back to Abingdon, my eldest son was born at the Marcham Road hospital, which was right next door to the MG factory. Now I notice it is the site of the famous American burger house. M.

At the time of his birth, Abingdon was also in Berkshire, it is now in Oxfordshire. So it was memory lane time. It is a very picturesque town. My grandfather was born and bred in Abingdon, his parents too, and many of the family still live there as far as I know.

However as always I digress. The exhibition was very well presented and the Museum is a good venue. Some very interesting work. It was also pleasing to see the museum has placed some of their own, textiles on show, including fine silk knitted gloves, a bead encrusted bodice... as well as a piece by Michael Brennand - Wood. An early piece from 1992.
For details of the Exhibition-Still Life in Stitches- click here:

They also have a very interesting session next Tuesday, and they have given me permission to post the flyer here on my blog... Thank you. I hope I can make it. Sounds fascinating.

Tomorrow I am off to Birmingham to the Knitting and Stitching show taking place. I am travelling to the venue with our local coach company, so hopefully should not get quite so tired, as I do with all the driving and walking around the show. More information here. Feeling very excited about it.
So much to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Great Western Embroiderers

It has been a most exciting afternoon - the inaugural meeting of the Great Western Embroiderers, in the nearby village of Cricklade ( of water meadow and 'Snakeshead Fritillary' fame). Here is our logo

Geographically we are in the region of Brunels famous Great Western Railway (GWR), so we decided to use this fact in our name. The rail network is often affectionately called Gods Wonderful Railway by train enthusiasts. Hopefully, we will live up to the "wonderful".

My intention was to help set up a group of artist and Craftspeople, who would like to support each other, learn from each other, hopefully exhibit together and offer an opportunity to network with other artists and crafts people. When I spoke to Kath about it, she had similar aspirations, so we have worked together to facilitate the opportunity. We are affiliating to the West Country Embroiderers, which I think will be a mutually advantageous association.

The meeting was most successful, and I really enjoyed meeting so many like-minded stitchers. It was also good to see so many fellow bloggers. Gill, Sue, Anna and Jackie ---great to see you.

Our next meeting is on October 9th same place and same time..... have a look for more information on my website on the side bar. If you live in the area and are interested.... then please let me know. Cannot wait until October 9th.........

So guess who forgot to take her camera??? Sorry....... hopefully I'll remeber at the next meeting.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Finally after all that fabric colouring ..... I am managing to do some stitching. The fabric is quite large and I have not worked this large in a long time, but am enjoying using the fabrics I dyed myself.

As a contrast the books I want to create with the rusty stuff that I blogged about yesterday, will be a welcome eye relaxation after all this strong colour. Wanting to incorporate the silver birch bark, may prove to be very difficult as books recieve a lot of handling. I have had another little thought about what to do.Will let you know whether it works.

As always I am given a great deal of help by the Siamese. I think he has a notion he is "pressing" the fabric for me....... so helpful.... right back to work after a quick cup of tea.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rusty Washing and books

When I gathered the rusty washing in from the line, it smelt of vinegar. I could not face ironing the calico with that smell. So washed again and used a sweet smelling fabric conditioner in the final rinse. Much better. The pieces are now ironed, and I am particularly pleased with them...they are crying out to be stitched..... I am thinking of using them as covers for books. I have not made a book in a few years.... so will have to do some homework and revision to remember how.

On my walk around the gardens at Urchfont yesterday, I came upon some silver birch bark on the ground. I picked it up and have bought it home. When I unravelled the bark I found that the inside is the same colour as my rust dyeing. What a lovely surprise! I would love to stitch into it, but at present it is too brittle. If you know how I could soften it enough to stitch through ... please let me know. I have wondered whether .. linseed oil? furniture polish? thin wax? The bark is very fragile.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Art at Urchfont Garden

Wonderful afternoon at Urchfont Manor today.. do go along if you can. Link Here

Here is a taster, and there is loads more to see and it's free entry.

Looking at the sky

In the Orchard

Lambs in the orchard...... and yes I bought the one on the left...... could you have left him there?

I just wish my garden (and my wallet) was large enough to have this installation... called "Ladies who lunch" - I love it and can associate with the sentiment whole - heartedly. (click on the picture for a better image.

Steel swan

Time for a chat.

Company for Alan.
Hope you have enjoyed the taster... better still go along and look for yourself.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Can you spot the sleeping cat? You would think at 17 years old, she would have given up sleeping on damp earth. She used to like to hide on the bare earth to catch unsuspecting mice, butterflies and the like..... nowadays she sleeps on the job. The Schnauzer could not see her... but then he has a lot of hair over his eyes. He had to use his trusty nose and sniffed her out.

Have been dyeing some more bits of cloth... ended up reminding me of the military uniforms they are wearing in the Gulf as desert camouflage .

So what did I use?

Any guesses?

Monday, September 03, 2007

History and Tudor Textiles

I have a deep interest in the history of textiles. Not a lot of knowledge though, so am always willing to learn something new.

Today I had that opportunity at the Marlborough branch of the Embroiderers Guild. Really fascinating illustrated talk by Tanya Elliot - The recreating of Mary Tudors wedding dress. Her research and attention to detail are incredible. If you have the opportunity to hear her talk.... you will not be disappointed. Talk link here

Tanya is a historian and has completed City and Guilds Part 1 and 2 in Fashion. Here is a link to Mary Tudor for information.. here

She has been retained by a number of National trust houses to oversee their original collections. As she pointed out there are very few surviving Tudor costumes to help her, and she has to rely on piecing together snippets of knowledge gleened from Portraits, household inventories and surviving clothing. Tanya has re-created the Wedding dress of Mary Tudor ..... it is beautiful. The silk was specially woven in England, just as the original had been ..... and cost £100 per metre. Really expensive. Have a look at this link to see the dress- Here. You have to agree it is amazing.
Tanya completed the embroidery on the white under skirt as well..
Not in the same league I know, but I went in search of my limited research into Tudor embroidery and some of my samples. I have enjoyed this sort of work. think I am inspired after the Tanya's talk today to do some more.

Here are some of my pencil sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum. They were completed at the museum, and I have not been able to find many examples on their website.

This is my modern interpretation of needle lace. The tudors specialised in raised work and creating slips. I think we can learn a lot from our medieval ancestors.

Here is a final hanging I created inspired by tudor work. It is quite 3D.
An interesting book had been published in 1998, but I notice it is out of print again - The schole House for the needle. If you can get a library loan... it has some brilliant designs.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My childhood

This is an odd post really, as I have been sharing some of my Colonial upbringing with some Internet mates of mine, who happened to be interested. I love to read and see pictures about the childhood experiences of others, however it is strange to be the one writing about it all. One of my all time favourite books is Gorky - My childhood.

My children have heard the tales, but my mates encouraged me to write it all down mainly for my own offspring. My father was an avid amateur photographer ( Kodak Brownie) and I have inherited all his carefully labelled and documented photos. I have been able to illustrate my life too, thanks to his photos. One of my buddies asked about how this has influenced my work in textiles, and of course it has. It is often difficult to quantify or say exactly how or where. That is often easier for others to do.

A while back I did do a piece of abstract work to try and express my feelings. I called it "Lebensgeist" . This title seemed to express better than any English title what I was trying to express. The sub title is ; - "Inspired by a Singapore Childhood. Memories of the vibrant colours, sun, jungle, sea, all under the haze of the heat and humidity. (Not forgetting the monsoons)"

So this is a response to life in Colonial Singapore - the three and a half years that we spent on the island, at an early and very influential part of my young life, and is a very special and fond memory that I have. The whole piece is hand stitched . Do you have any special textiles that make you remember your childhood? That you, either have made yourself, or have coveted and saved.