Monday, December 31, 2012

A new year.

When I look back at my post for the start of 2012 I am pretty pleased with the way I kept to my chosen theme which was based on Louise Baldwin’s three day course during which we looked at the work of artists who have used the theme of Change, Transform and Disintegration. However, the work took an unexpected pathway when I bought the Baby lock Embellisher, having resolved never to buy yet another tool which I suspected I would make little use of; well, it is now part of my work routine, moving between my Pfaff and the embellisher.
What else has happened to Stitchworks during the year? I made a video workshop for Alma Stoller which was a huge learning curve but which I managed despite time pressure and the fact that I had the most awful chest infection which meant that between takes I coughed until I was breathless.
I worked with Sue Bleiweiss to produce a sketchbook on the theme of Rhythm and a textile piece for her book ‘The Sketchbook Challenge’ which was successfully published. Both Sue and Alma, although each having different approaches, were so organized and a pleasure to work with throughout.
My book for We Love Your Books on the theme of Minute was chosen for both the on-line exhibition and the actual exhibition at the  University of Northampton.
My work for Change based on my theme of the rabbit’s skeleton was displayed in the foyer at City Lit in London.
I tell you all this not only to show off but to make myself aware that Stitchworks has had a good year, despite the fact that in other ways the ‘real’ me has had the worse year of her life, so far. Despite the terrible bad bits creativity has survived and helped me through.
For 2013 I already have two projects in the pipeline which you will hear about later if you stick with me.I have lots of ideas for the Embellisher, particularly combining felting with hand stitch. I will at times practice my lino cuts,  burning and encaustic are in the background. There will be a little flurry of bookmaking as this is the terms’ theme for my U3A group and the day services group will be working with the theme of Paper, when I get round to thinking what we can do – definitely making paper and then …

I have added a link to Barry Smith, sculptural artist and metal worker in Australia to my side bar. I purchased three bowls raised from reclaimed metal for family Christmas presents. They are beautiful tiny objects and he took the trouble to make sure they arrived in time.

Best wishes for the New Year to you all.
 Thank you for visiting. If you are able to leave a comment I appreciate it as it helps to keep me blogging.

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Hand stitch'

I am pleased to have received a review copy of the new book ‘hand stitch – Perspectives’ by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating published by Bloomsbury. You may have been lucky enough to see the display about this book at the recent Knit and Stitch Show.This post is some first thoughts about the book and a tribute to hand stitch.

It is certainly a substantial, heavy book; hardback and 224 pages, but what I mean is that it is deeply serious and comes from an academic base, many of its contributors having links to the embroidery department in Manchester University’s School of Art. For those of us who consider stitching on paper, adding twigs, metal or simply constructing an array of French Knots in varied weights of thread to be adventurous, some of the articles, which feature conceptual stitch that floats in the air or tries to answer the question ‘How do you hear the voice of thread’, will introduce ideas which come as an eye opener and are challenging. I find this approach stimulating and it reminds me of my time in the library at Farnham University of Creative Art looking at images and ways of working which were completely new to me.

I eased myself into the book gently with a look through the many beautiful illustrations and then found the Glossary, which in itself would make a book; this features images from a project in which students from MMU worked with Coats Threads to explore and be inventive with stitch. These examples are shown alongside historical examples. Fiona Rainford who is studying for a degree at MMU and who some of you may ‘know’ particularly for her stitching on felt which she shows on Flickr as Fi@84,worked 

Wave Stitch on distressed photographs.

 So far and I have been particularly moved by Alice Kettle’s chapter ‘Outside, Inside and In Between’ with examples of artists who have worked outside the established art world and expressed their creativity in original ways. A jacket with layers of words was stitched by Agnes Richter in 1895 and she graffited her institutional jacket and so asserted her individuality.

Even though only just starting the book I already feel a quiet pleasure at having for so long hand stitched. There is suddenly a certain pride at being a small part of this tradition which has a truly contemporary presence. So much so that I found some of my old work and decided to give it an airing here as a tribute to hours of hand stitch.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


A page from my sketchbook today; encaustic worked on handmade paper and then added to the sketchbook. There is a happy accident in the top right hand corner, after I had a nasty happening with discharge paste, which I mentioned previously, and had to repair this page by adding a scrap of material. I then discovered that by writing on tissue and then adding a layer of wax the writing looked as if it was on the material. I must come back to that idea.

I don’t know what your views are about Pin Interest, I know some people have really strong views against the use of their images on the site. I have not looked at it much until recently. I must say I was amazed at how many of my images have been pinned, of which I had no knowledge and not a comment made by the ‘pinner’.
The point is that I want to make a special mention of Eva Lundberg            who had the grace to email me and say that she liked my work and asked for my agreement for her to pin it. I was most impressed and have enjoyed looking at her pin board.

Dionne Swift, UK textile artist, is asking for anyone who has purchased a piece of her work to send her a photo of it in situ and she is putting them up on her site here. If you have not seen her work you may like to take a look.
Thank you to new followers and especially to those I have not been able to get back to.

Monday, November 26, 2012


 This is a little bit of a cheat post as I am showing you some old photos and mosaics; most of them come from The Persistent Thread group on Flickr.  You may have read before that I have an inspiring view from my little room/studio, overlooking an open field which slopes up from the road below my window. I have often used it in one way or another for images. As I have just done that whilst practising my lino cuts, I thought I would seek out a few of the other images and put them together.

Harvest time and a print making course at City Lit..

Machine embroidery, sketching and photography.

A collagraph print and the prints made using a pasta machine.

A little bit of everything,including used envelopes(click for a clearer view).

Stitching on pulp paper,then photographed.

Photographed with a gauze texture added.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

'We Love Your Books'


an exhibition of experimental artists’ books
curated by we love your books|2012

15 November - 17 December 2012 

Avenue Campus Foyer

Avenue Campus, The University of Northampton
St. George’s Avenue, Northampton NN2 6JD

Slide show here.

Purchase  a catalogue or digital download at magcloud.

Selected minute books in exhibition

Monday, November 12, 2012

New toys (tools).

Sometimes it is nice to give way to an impulsive buy and that is what I did when I bought myself three catalyst wedges. I feel pretty sure that with a bit of cardboard or a decorating tool that I can get a similar affects, but sometimes it’s good to buy something new and to get that parcel in the post.
For the amount of fun I have had with them, they did not exactly break the bank. Just listen to me, a sure Yorkshire woman, trying to justify spending a bit of money.

 There are a few videos that you can watch to get ideas for their use. I wonder about using them with wax; will the wax come off easily or will the tools have to be dedicated to future use with wax. Let me know if you have the answer.

 I bought mine from here   I think they are easily available in the US..

Monday, November 05, 2012

Lino cut

On Saturday I went to an afternoon workshop on Mark Making with Lino cut . It was run by Susan Yeates of Magenta-Sky. I found the course via Hot Courses following an internet search. I have had a few goes at lino cuts over the years and haven’t really liked it but after doing a repeat print of one of my drawings from a recent art class I thought it would be good to learn more about the process. That print worked on fabric with acrylics(apparently not really the done thing,I don't know why), is now my new apron.

 This workshop was better than previous attempts I think because it focused on learning something about the basic marks and ideas of how a shape can be interpreted in different ways. It was well organized and was well attended with fourteen people in the upstairs room of the Electric Theatre in Guildford. It was also very reasonably priced.

As you can see, I would need a lot of practise to make acceptable prints and I also need to read Susan’s book to find out how to register my prints. It is an enjoyable process, despite being hard work, and is one that can be done at home with minimal equipment and mess. I say hard work because we all pretty much agreed that it is hard on the hands and the back  - the lady next to me kept sighing which I told her made me feel better, as it summed up how I was feeling. There was a lot to do in a short time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hand stitch itch.

I can answer my own question now, no, it wasn't finished. Posting a photo on-line helped me to see how ‘flat’ it looked and that combined with an itch to hand stitch meant that I have added areas of hand stitch and worked them into the background by using the embellisher and free machining.

Now I have to decide whether to work further on the light areas which I will probably do.
At the Knit and Stitch Show I particularly enjoyed the work of the Material Space Group in their exhibition 'In Touch'. Take a look at their website and the work of the individual artists. I liked the delicate bark scrolls by Jane Neals and on looking at her piece 'lost language' I am amazed that we had similar ideas, even to the use of red looped thread for  lettering. Nothing is ever truly unique, all we can hope is that we each add a personal touch here and there. I think the sculptural work using old teabags is definitely the definitive use of them. I wonder who first had the ‘aha’ moment when looking at the discarded bags. 
 I was lucky enough to just walk round a corner and come across the work of Fiona Rainford whose felt work I have long admired on Flickr and even better got to chat to her.
 In the 62 Group marquee Louise Baldwin said ‘hello’ and told me that she has shown lots of students what she considers my way of making felt and I told her how I often tell  people of how she persisted ‘like  a  Rottweiler’  to get me to experiment with the Embellisher.

Monday, October 22, 2012

One good buy.

The first embroidery/textile book which I was given in 1988 as a present was ‘The Art of the Needle'    by Jan Beaney.I wouldn't ever want to part with it, even though I am currently trying to declutter – having cleared two houses in a year it makes one aware of all the accumulated stuff that one day someone will have to dispose of. I know I should really ‘get rid’ of some of my City and Guilds pieces which are taking up a lot of space and honestly will hardly ever be looked at again, but it is difficult as I remember all the hours of stitching and' if and butting’ involved at the time. I have actually thrown away a whole basket of samples and acknowledged the fact that I had fun but have now moved on and in fact am accumulating more up-to-date clutter!

The point of this being that I used to pour over  Jan Beaneys' books and they have given me much pleasure; I have also grown to respect Jean Littlejohn as a tutor. When I saw a review of their new DVD I decided I would buy it at the Knit and Stitch Show. I did not expect it to contain any particularly new ideas but I wanted the pleasure of watching them stitch. It was a good buy and it has made me want to start playing with stitches again. I would thoroughly recommend it if you want a whole four hours of pleasure but beware it will make your fingers itch to get out all those piles of thread.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is it finished?

This is a piece related to the rabbit skeleton that I keep working on and may well be finished now. 

It is really tactile as are most of these embellished pieces. I may well add some more shiny thread to get the idea of light shining on the bones. I know they look like trees too.

 Here is a linkto the post about the drawings and original sketchbook print which I did.

I enjoyed my trip to the Knit and Stitch Show despite a very long journey, due to problems with signalling on the railway and having to stand on the way back. Don’t you sometimes regret the loss of the old fashioned manners; standing in First Class with all the business men sitting I know I did!
I’ll tell you more about my purchases and what I particularly enjoyed next time.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I thought it might be nice on this overcast misty October day in the UK to have a bit of bright colour here to make a change.

These are some images from a small sample I made to practise when I first bought the Embellisher earlier this year.

I thank you all for your comments and hope I managed to get back to everyone.

Click to see larger images.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rabbit Bones

Mark making to get myself out of the doldrums led to this little piece, 9.5 inches square, which kept me occupied for most of the week.

 It is initially embellished rusted bandage and silk onto a commercial felt background with a centre of waxed and discharged fabric.

 I did more embellishing, couching and hand stitching and generally just had fun with it. I even used some glitz in the form of a copper metallic thread.

 In order to make the little ‘Os’ I had to go back to my own video for the Stitched Workshops to remind myself how to work them!

I'm looking forward to a trip to The Knit and Stitch Show in the next couple of weeks,  to seeing new work and finding new enthusiasms.
(Click for a closer view).

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