Friday 29 April 2011

Website re-naming

I think I must have had a bit of a rush of blood to the head, I got all enthusiastic and got a domain name and everything so now my website has a nice, easy to remember address:

I've certainly learnt a lot about websites this week, not sure I really understand it all but at least I sort of have a vague idea how to do it! I still prefer making actual things!

Thursday 28 April 2011

Magical Quiltage

As well as entering a piece of my own work for the Festival of Quilts I'm also making a quilt with my Textile group up at The Heathlands Project.* Last week we painted up our background and fabric for the tree and today we started stitching the tree (which I cut out) onto the base fabric. The group members designed the quilt themselves and are using the skills they've learnt in the group to make the quilt.

Here is the fabric just after being painted last week:

'Tree' Fabric

Background fabric
Here is the fabric with the tree cut out and pinned on:

Background with tree pinned on
I can't wait to see how this piece works out, everyone is very excited about it and it's great seeing it grow week by week. I do find it slightly odd that in my own work I only use muted, subtle colours and almost always have a very limited palette whereas when I work with other people we always seem to produce very bright, exuberantly coloured work.

* We work with adults with learning disabilities and run a range of projects including art, I.T., horticulture and enterprise as well as a small cafe. We believe in community and environment and all our work centres around developing a better community and environment.

Knitting a rainbow

I love to knit. I learnt when I was 19 and needed a piece of knitting to destroy for a piece of work I was doing at art college so I got my mum to teach me and I really took to it. Since then I've knitted a lot; sometimes for my art but more often for pleasure. I find it very therapeutic. I go into a kind of zen state when I knit and I find I often have my best ideas when I'm knitting away and often an issue I've been struggling with in a piece of work will suddenly resolve itself as I knit and purl. I find that knitting occupies my mind just enough to keep worries and thoughts of daily life at bay whilst leaving it free enough to explore the creative pathways of my mind . Plus, I like making stuff and I love that with two sticks and a bit of string you can create pretty much anything.

Beautiful colours!

Detail of the lace pattern
My current project is from Knit Magazine (issue 36) and is called the kaleidoscope vest, it's a simple sleeveless cardigan type thing. It's a really simple pattern so is great just to pick up and put down. I'm using Rico Poems sock yarn which is a beautiful self striping yarn in gorgeous colours and I'm working it on circular needles (but not in the round). I'm just over halfway through the vest and am looking forward to completing it. Unlike in my art work I often like to use very bright colours or bold combinations.

Quilting progress

So, I got my fabric dyed up ready for my quilt. I was really pleased with the colour of the organza but the mid layer was too pale and subtle to be seen underneath it. So I added a bit of detail with watered down fabric paint.

Mid layer of fabric

I also painted some crows onto organza and have begun stitching into them with my sewing machine. I've been using some extremely slippery viscose threads which have a lovely sheen and look great but are a pain to work with as they keep snapping! However, I'm really pleased with how they're working out and I think they will look very good when they're completed and attached to the background. Lots more stitching to go...

Detail of partially stitched organza crow
As the organza is very fine, when I painted it, a lot of paint went through the fabric and I ended up with a cool image on the paper underneath. I think this will be good to work into as the colours show up better on the paper than they did on the fabric, it will be a good base for a drawing!

'Accidental' drawing

Monday 25 April 2011

Caterpillar Costume

Next Monday is May Day. Which means parades, which means costumes. I run an art group every other Monday evening for adults with learning disabilities and for the past few weeks we have been working on our costumes and scenery for this years May Day Parade. The theme is Alice in Wonderland so we've been having fun creating psychedelic swirls, madness mushrooms and mystical flowers.

Psychedelic colour experiments

I've also been busy making a Caterpillar costume for one of the people in the parade. The person in question came to me with a picture of a costume she'd found on the Internet so we made a pattern and (temperamental machinery excepted) I've cracked on and made it. I'm really hoping that it fits because I'm not going to see her before the parade so if it doesn't work we could have a small problem! The body is made from jersey, with clothes line appliqued to the edges to give it a wiggly caterpillar effect. The feet are velvet and the collar, supported by vilene and garden wire, is a heavyweight cotton fabric that I found for very cheap. When I told the shop assistant what it was for she looked at me like I was insane, I then tried to explain which I think made me sound even more crazy so in the end I gave up! This is the costume spread flat, hopefully next week I can show you what it looks like on. If you happen to be in Penrith on Monday come and see it for yourself!


A brand new website is born!

Having spent the past few days frying my technologically inadept brain, I have now created and published my very own website. Which is quite frankly rather exciting. I used wix as my knowledge of computery things is limited and it was recommended to me by a friend. I'm quite pleased with the results I think. I may even get really keen and upgrade it to an ad-free real domain at some point. But not yet. I'm off to do something more interesting, yay paint! Oh, yeah; here's the address!
Let me know what you think (but be gentle please.)

Friday 22 April 2011

Colour fun

Part of the point of me starting this blog was to encourage myself to get making more and to share my work with people. I also intended to use it as a kind of online journal, recording the process as well as the finished outcomes. So far I've not really done that, in fact it would be fair to say that I've not done that at all. So, I'm going to give it a go and see what happens.

I'm currently making an art quilt (by currently making I mean I've been thinking about it and semi-planning it for about 3 months and have finally started on it today) to enter into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August. As I said in my previous post I entered a piece in January for a touring exhibition which is showing at said Festival and it would be really cool to have two pieces on show. It would be especially good as the piece that has been accepted, Rise, is small scale and the piece I'm now working on is large but they are both closely related in terms of both concept and technique.

Organza (top) layer

Base layer-there will be another layer between this and the organza top layer
Today I have been making the most of the sunshine and dyeing the fabric for my piece. I'm using cotton muslin and silk organza, both dyed using procion dyes. I've been bucket dyeing and painting on the dyes, with varying levels of success! I've over dyed the main layer twice but I'm happy with the colour now. I like to work with coloured greys, I like the soft, muted tones it produces. I mostly work with blue and green greys as I think it gives a calm and reflective feeling, giving people chance to think about the work. The fabric for this piece is a lovely soft blue, I'm looking forward to stitching it!


I submitted a piece of work for selection for a textile exhibition way back in January and I've just found out that it's been selected, which is rather exciting for me. The exhibition is called Textile News and is organised by Dr. Gudrun Heinz, the theme this time was Freedom. I chose to look at the idea of breaking free and my piece took the form of a bird rising up and flying free. It is made from layered and pieced organza which I dyed in shades of greys, greens and blues. I then used hand embroidery stitches including feather stitch, blanket stitch, fly stitch and stem stitch to add detail and texture to the piece. It's an important piece for me as it got me back into creating work, giving me a goal to work towards and a bit of an incentive to get going. I enjoyed doing it and I'm now working on a much larger piece along a similar theme and using similar techniques.

The exhibition is touring and the first venue is The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham 11th-14th August this year, it then carries on to Moscow, Prague and Einbeck.

You can find out more about the exhibition here

This is one of my preliminary drawings for the piece:

Ink drawing exploring the theme of freedom

Friday 15 April 2011

Table Top Sale

If anyone is in or around Carlisle on Sunday I'll be down at The Sands Centre where they're holding a table top sale. I'll be selling stuff the guys up at The Heathlands Project have made in the Arts and Crafts section. To find out a bit more about The Heathlands please visit:

Easter Crafts Workshop

Today I did an Easter craft workshop with Carlisle Mencap's Playscheme, we made chicks, cards and collaged decorations. It was great fun and they made some really cool stuff, I spent quite a lot of time doing prep for this workshop so I was really pleased it all worked out!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Holiday Inspirations

We've just come back from a few days away in beautiful County Durham, the landscape is so wild and magnificent. We went to Killhope Lead Mining Museum yesterday which was fantastic and makes me very glad to live now!

One of the ways the miners used to pass the little spare time they had was to make spar boxes; collections of minerals they'd found whilst working in the mine displayed in (you guessed it) boxes. Some of them are really lovely works of art. There is also a piece in the museum by a contemporary artist (whose name I cannot remember and who I cannot find reference to on the great interweb, please let me know if you know who she is as I would like to properly credit her and see more of her work!) in response to the site and the spar boxes. Her piece is a beautiful, contemporary take on the theme which draws inspiration from the surrounding flora and fauna.

Installation view



Cauldron's Snout Waterfall-I climbed this!
I feel quite inspired after our trip away, hopefully this will translate into action over the next few days!