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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SMART Thoughts, Authentic Aims

At this time of year, we all start thinking about big things, like goals and targets. Even if we're not working, whether for someone else or for ourselves, we still like to plan out what we would like to get done in the New Year. Lots of us jump straight in there, making lists of what to do, and when to do it. SMART, if you haven't come across it before, is an acronym which is meant to remind us of the best way to set goals. Goals, it says, should be;

-Time bound.

And that's true. The only way to be sure that you do what you want to do, is to be as specific as that. So, we move from, 'I want to do more dyeing', to ' I want to make x metres of hand dyed fabric by February, and another x metres by August. For more about SMART goals, try the site here for a clear explanation.

I know all this, I've taught lots of other people to work that way, too, and I know it is a great way of managing and measuring performance. The downside, for me, is that it focusses on what I'm going to do. For me, there's a bit more to it than that. I also want to think about how it is I'm going to be. I want to continue to be healthy, for instance. I want to be sure that I'm working authentically, too, making the work I want to make, and not work that I think might be commercial, or might suit this or that market... I've done a bit of that this year, and I don't want to do it any more.

So, I'm starting my goal setting, not with the specifics, but with the general. I'm asking the question, 'what do I want to achieve this year'. After all, if you don't have the big picture clear in your head, you might well miss something. That question, 'what do you want to achieve' is one of my favourites; I use it often when I'm coaching, or talking to people about a problem they have. We jump too quickly to 'fixing' things, without really getting a clear picture of what it is we want out of the situation. We get swept up in the issue, and forget to ask ourselves what is important to us.

What is important to me, this year, is this idea of authenticity. Most of my work comes from my inner landscape, or from talking to other people about theirs. For me, that means trusting myself, listening to my intuition, taking risks, exposing parts of myself that I might have kept hidden before. If you like, I'm defining the way I want to work, before I sit down and write up the goals. I want to work openly, honestly, directly, clearly. I want to continue with the themes I've been working with recently, of scarring, cracking and erosion. I want to work with other people, too, to help them to work out what they need to be authentic, how they need to work, and what they need to work on, to achieve that aim, or whatever else their aim turns out to be. I want to fill my life with joy, and share that joy with others.

Now, I'm ready to start thinking about goals, the specifics, such as the two books I am committed to writing this year. If you are going through the goal setting process, just give yourself some time first, to being clear about what you want to achieve this year, and how you want to achieve it, before you start listing what you are going to do. I'm sure it will help.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flat Out...

for all the wrong reasons. I've managed to pick up a virus of some kind, which has laid me very low (in bed) for the past week or so. I've given up struggling, and this is the only thing I'm doing today, just to see if I can. All I want for Christmas is... a virus free body. Not as bad as one of my friends, though, who had to go through a knee operation without visitors, as the Norwich hospital has been closed to visitors because of Winter Vomiting Virus. He's at home now, though, and having care lavished upon him... we have some care to lavish on him ourselves, but I'm staying away until I'm sure that I'm no longer infectious.

Work has ceased completely, which is a pest. I just got the creativity book straight in my head, at last, and was ready to finish it this week... but I'm really not thinking straight enough for that. The house looks like a bomb has hit it, and I'm not sure what Robin has been eating this week...but I'm pretty sure that whatever it was, I wouldn't have approved of it. I have a lot of baking to do for Christmas, tidying and cooking, too, but that's not going to happen until I can manage to stay upright for more than half an hour at a time. We have three guests coming to stay, and I'd like to give the impression of being calm and competent, even though I'm not! Mind you, there's a limit to how far you can fool your family...

The image is of a collage I made a couple of weeks ago, see what you think. Meantime, I'm going back to bed...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


This is what happens when you leave a thing half done. It might even be a picture of What Too Much Fabric Looks Like. Well, I exaggerate a bit; that's a small proportion of my actual stash, which is boxed up now and looking tidy in the far corner of my studio. But it was what stopped me playing with my embellisher this afternoon; I quite simply couldn't get at the table. And yes, there was a bit of me thinking, there's something I should be doing, here... but hey, the embellisher won't go away, and I can now see the table. And I managed to put all of that lovely fabric away, including the small mountain that was underneath the table, without falling in love with more than one piece of fabric, which is now sitting waiting on top of the sewing machine. I'm impressed. And I think I might do some quilting before Robin gets back from the football.

Funny, though, I might think I have too much fabric, I might even believe it; but it's still remarkably difficult to contemplate giving it away... but I do have some set aside for Sally, and some more for Jill. And Andrew is coming for Christmas with his new girlfriend, and she perhaps she might like to do a bit of judicious stash diving while she's here... so I'm not as mean as all that! And there will be one or two more quilty visitors after Christmas, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of that lovely fabric with my friends.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Is Coming...

but it doesn't mean that I've stopped working. I'm still writing away, and considering what to do with the small pieces of evolon and lutradur which I made during the Knitting and Stitching Show weekend. The one above is an example. It is evolon soft, just waiting to be stitched. I love working in bright colours, and orange in particular is one of my favourites. I'm immediately drawn to orange in shops, and wear it as often as I can. It makes me feel joyful and bright, good things to feel. I love working with these colours, too. Not sure quite what I'll do with this piece... but I'm sure I'll think of something!

I'm enjoying working with evolon, which is just as well, as I'm committed to writing a book about it. It will be called 'Exquisite Evolon', and will be out next August, just in time for Festival of Quilts. I love working with Evolon, as it is so tactile, with the feel of suede, or a very short piled velvet...lovely stuff, and takes colour beautifully.

By the way, I've made a new blog here, because I wanted to show off other peoples' work, as well as my own. And I just wrote about 'happy soup' on my personal blog, if you'd like to know a bit more about me...or just fancy reading about food! Not that I'm obsessed...but isn't it coffee time around now?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creative Coaching

As I said in the other blog, yesterday, I'm branching out, and am offering coaching services for creative people, particularly focussing on removing creative blocks, but also doing some practical work. Read all about it here My first coaching session took place today. I've coached all sorts of people in all sorts of situations, but I had never coached over the phone before, and immediately learned that the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley. You can arrange a time to phone, but if someone got there first, you just have to wait!

It's always a pleasure to talk to people about what they do. I love hearing about other people's approaches to things. In this case, we talked about the things that hold us back, and what we can do about them. I think we both learned something, which is the way it should be. Communication is a two way thing, after all. I may know quite a lot about all kinds of things, but we are our own experts when it comes to our own situation. It is my job, as a coach, to ask appropriate questions, so that you can work out what it is you are concerned about, and make a plan to deal with it. It sounds very simple, and it is, really. A conversation with a purpose, if you like.

And now it's back to dealing with The Stash. Yesterday, I went upstairs and began to reorganise the way I keep my fabric. If anything, things look a lot worse than they did, with piles of cloth everywhere, but I have managed to sort out the large pieces, and sift them out into colours, and box them. I've now got to find a good way of managing fq's and smaller pieces, probably rolled up and inserted into boxes, lengthways, as they do in shops. And then, of course, there's The Scraps. My, there are a lot of scraps. Just as well, perhaps, as I'll want to make a baby quilt soon for a friend's soon-to-arrive offspring, and I feel the notion to make a lap quilt... no, I don't know why, either. Maybe it's just that it's cold. Very cold. Brrr.

And then there's the hand dye. Lots of it. Lovely stuff. Much of it will be put onto the etsy shop, or the blog, because there is a limit to how much even I can use. So keep an eye open if you're looking for a colour infusion, as some of it is Quite Bright, as you can see from the image above!

Saturday, December 06, 2008


no, not me, though the demons have been cantering through my week kicking at anything that moves, and quite a few things that don't... My camera is sulking. Or rather, the interface between camera and computer is not working, so there are plenty new images, I just can't show you any of them. Sigh.

The cantering demons have come as a bit of a shock, really, I've been so well for so long. But I suppose it seems reasonable that they have to come out to play occasionally. I just wish they weren't quite so enthusiastic about it all. But, looking on the bright side, I have lost half a stone... and if I can avoid making myself feel better by using chocolate, I'll hopefully continue to lose weight. So, as diversionary tactics, I started to dye. Yes, you read it right. I love dyeing when I'm depressed, it always makes me feel better. It is something to do with all that undiluted colour, I think. The images are not the new cloth, which is some of the lovely sateen that I bought several years ago from Heide Stoll Weber, the German dyer, dyed with some purple and brown procion from ColourCraft. The results are fab, rich dark colours with some lighter browns, I'm very pleased.

But, as I can't show you the new cloth, you'll just have to put up with images of Some Things I Dyed Earlier (in true Blue Peter fashion). I decided to add some cloth to my Etsy shop, so these pieces, both metres, can be found there. The colours are even stronger in real life, but this is as close as I could get to decent photos. Must Try Harder. But of course, first, Must Get Camera To Cooperate...sigh.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Good Time...

was had by all concerned at Harrogate, I hope! Nice to see both old and new friends. It was a particular surprise to look up and find my sister standing in front of me. Unbeknown to me, but not to everyone else in the family, she and my brother in law had come down to Harrogate to surprise me. I'm rarely lost for words, but on this occasion, all I managed was...what are you doing here? Not very original, huh? I spent a goodly time covered in fine glitter, as lots of people delighted in informing me (I think ColourCraft should call it fairy dust, myself, much more romantic than fine glitter... but very nice to work with, even if you do get covered in it!

And then, of course, time to go home. I've been working very hard, about to launch a new coaching service (of which more tomorrow), plus making plans with the printers for a hard copy edition of Lovely Lutradur (yes, you read it here first ... if you hate CDs, the book form should be out in early February). And a project for a magazine. Now, that was a real oops moment. I ran out of red lutradur, so I went to make a sheet or two of red dyed paper. There I was, transfer paint uncapped, finished and ready to clear up. Must not knock the jar...oops... Rats! Transfer paints plus wood trims equals stains you just can't get out. I know this from bitter experience...which is why I was being so careful... aaargh... Still, look at the number of extra designs I got out of the spill!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

...just what it is I'm going to be demonstrating at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate this weekend, I thought I'd give you a sneak preview. I'm going to be working mostly with transfer dyes, though I suspect that some of Colour Craft's other watercolour and acrylic paints might well sneak in there, too. I'll be working with transfer paints, but I've prepared some background colours using the powdered dyes. I'm much more likely to spill those, so I reckoned that doing that preparation work in the shed was probably a good move!

As you probably know, when you use transfer dyes, you first paint them onto paper, and then 'transfer' the colour from the paper onto the cloth, using a very hot iron (detailed instructions, of course, in the Lovely Lutradur book) (end of plug!). If you haven't done that before, you might not appreciate the incredible transformation that heat brings about to the dyes painted on the paper. So I brought one in from the shed to show you how it works. The first image shown is the dye on the paper; the colours are dark, almost greyish. That is completely changed in the next two images, both taken off that specific piece of paper. The colours are much brighter, and they show up beautifully, first on Lutradur, then on Evolon. I think that's part of the reason I love working with transfer dyes; you get such a lovely surprise when you transfer an image for the first time.

I say surprise, advisedly; if you work as I do, wet on wet, the dyes mix and mingle, so I can never be sure quite what the end result will be. I love that about dyeing in general, and this process in particular. And as you can see, not content with ironing my way through Festival of Quilts, this time, I'm going to iron my way through two days of the Knitting and Stitching Show. Most people go to these things to get away from the ironing!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting Ready...

to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate this weekend; if you're around Saturday and Sunday, come and say hello, as I'm demonstrating transfer dyeing with lutradur on the ColourCraft stand. As I was drifting through the fabrics, I came across some hand painted pieces that I haven't used; the one in the picture here is a good example. Something like that is ideal for using to work under lutradur, especially the lighter weights, as the marks will show beautifully through the lutradur layer. I think I may take some up dye painted pieces with me to sell at the weekend; I'll certainly take a couple of small pieces up to demonstrate with. This one, which reminds me of trees, somehow, is in my Etsy shop, and I'll be adding more over the next couple of days.

I will, of course, have ample supplies of the Lovely Lutradur CD with me at Harrogate, but if you just can't wait, you can find it here, too.

I'm slightly overwhelmed with fabric at present, still trying to work out where to put the lovely cloth that I inherited from my friend Lynn, so a little judicious pruning is in order, I think. Hand dyes, anyone?

Monday, November 17, 2008

You've Been Framed...

or at least, this particular piece has. It's a follow on from 'It's In The Trees', called 'Blue Trees', and it is sitting happily in a lovely wooden frame.

I have a love hate relationship with frames, but I have to agree with Robin, who said that he thought that a piece looks more finished than when it is hung without. I think that, as well as that, that there is an expectation that art work comes in frames. People know what to *do* with art in frames; I think they are less sure about textiles that hang unframed. Either way, I think that this particular piece looks good in its frame. I hope you agree; all feedback welcome as always! Find more detail shots here

And yes, of course, the piece is made from lutradur. Well, I suppose it would be... I'm obsessed with the stuff. Who wouldn't be, when you can get results like these.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Lovely Surprise

The things you learn when you're working. I used some thick thread in the bobbin and stitched from the back of the piece for the first time today, and WOW! what a difference! As you can see from the images above, I liked the effect so much, I quilted the whole quilt that way. The thread is Decora, made by Madeira, and I got mine from Myfanwy. Thanks, Myfanwy, it's just gorgeous, it has a wonderful sheen (several strands of rayon together will do that, I suppose...). So guess who'll be doing a whole lot of that in future?

The quilt is called Gestation, and it has turned out quite unlike I expected it to. Nothing new there, really. I'm just delighted by it. Yes, I know, I've always been modest... But joking apart, I have been finding it difficult to work abstractly with commercial fabric. It usually depicts something realistic, and I find it hard to get past that and into what the piece suggests. But this one seems to have taken me past that barrier, so here's hoping it'll stay down.

BTW, the quilt is all strong, rich colours, must try to get a better picture of the whole thing; the detail shot is very realistic. Bring back the sun, all is forgiven...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sixteen Small Quilt Tops...

waiting to be stitched... sing along...(to the tune of Ten Green Bottles!)...and if one small quilt top, was stitched along the ditch, there'd be fifteen small quilt tops, waiting to be stitched...

As you can see from the image, some of them are very small indeed. It started out as an activity with my friend Jill; with my scrap box, augmented with some of the fabric I was given by the Bunis family, we set to making small quilt tops. Jill made one single, complex piece; I went for quantity and simplicity. And then, while demonstrating at the exhibition, I managed to complete a few more. So when Jill and I met up for our regular Tuesday afternoon session (every second Tuesday), it seemed to make sense to get the quilts ready for quilting, along with some lutradur and evolon pieces that were ready to be worked on. So, sixteen in all.

I had forgotten what fun it is to work with random amounts and types of fabric, putting them together in the best possible way, stitching into them. Improvisational piecing, to give it its Sunday name. Believe me, I won't forget again! Working in a seemingly random way epitomises my approach to art in general... make a mark, make another mark, respond... It's a question of trusting one's judgement. And allowing oneself to have fun!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Summing Things Up.

I've been asked to run a short workshop on writing profiles, for one of my local WIRE groups. If you're a self employed woman in the UK, check out WIRE by clicking on the link in the last sentence. I designed the workshop, but thought I had perhaps better add my own profile, first, to see that the process actually worked.

It's not easy, telling the world exactly what you do in a few short sentences. Here's my profile, see what you think.

I'm Marion, a Scottish artist living and working in a tiny village in Norfolk. I have a portfolio of skills and experience, which I offer to share with you in a number of different ways.
I make and sell art of all descriptions,with a current focus on mixed media and textile art for domestic and commercial interiors. Start at my blog,, to get a feel for what I offer, and find a list of my online outlets on the right hand side column of the blog.

I offer workshops based in my studio, The Little Green Shed, for up to four people. These are bespoke workshops, but I also offer workshops for larger groups throughout the country by arrangement. I write and self publish instructional books for artists; my first has just been published (Lovely Lutradur with Dijanne Cevaal), and two more are in production. I am also happy to work one to one with artists on the theme of their choice, whether technique or process focussed.

I also offer coaching services to small businesses, based on my experience as an HR and Self Development Manager. I believe that we are all creative, and that we are all capable of self expression, in any part of our lives, and my coaching is tailored to help you find the answers you already have, but aren't aware of yet.

So there you go; me in a nutshell. You might be surprised by some of the things I do... sometimes I surprise even me! I think it reflects the different things I have done over the years, combining all my knowledge and experience in new ways. So, why now? I have, over the past few months, put Incapacity behind me, and become a fully fledged Small Business. I will, of course, try not to drone on about that here, but I did want to acknowledge a change in direction, somewhat. The demon depression is of course still lurking, but he behaves really well these days. Change IS possible, no matter how ill you might be. If I can do it, so can anyone else.

If you're interested in these services, please do get in touch, I'd be delighted to talk to you about what I do and how I do it. It costs nothing to ask questions... not the first time, anyway!! The image is my new logo... hope you like it. And wish me luck, won't you?

Monday, November 03, 2008


from a busy, busy week! If you missed it, my work has been on show in Norfolk, alongside another textile artist and some photographers. And look what you missed! I'll be putting up more photos over the next few days, but for now, here's a selection of my work. The first image is what you saw as you came in the door of the gallery, two mixed media pieces, 'Outburst' and 'Losing My Religion'. The gallery is structured into three recessed spaces. My work was mainly in the central recess, with more of my mixed media work on the ends of the walls. To the right, were photographs by Ray Arnold, Derek Roberts and Rosie Arnold (image 2 shows some of my mixed media work with some of Derek's photos). To the left of my work, was more textiles and collage work by Jill Arnold, as well as an installation; image three shows my remaining mixed media pieces, along with some of Jill's collages in the background. And yes, all those Arnolds are related; Rosie is Ray's and Jill's daughter.

Now, though, it's back to work with a vengeance. Paperwork, mostly, sigh... but also some creative work, which is balm for the soul. Though I did get a lot of work done in the two days I was demonstrating at the gallery. Great fun was had by all concerned! Thanks to everyone who came in to look over the week! Now to get stuck into work on the books, as well as some painting and dyeing...hurrah...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fantastic Feedback

All feedback is me! I love it when people stand in front of a painting and say, I really don't like that... providing they tell me why, of course... though sometimes it's just a question of personal taste. But I feel complimented, nonetheless. Art is usually intended to produce strong least, mine certainly is. And I don't know about you, but deathly silence after a post makes me wonder what I did wrong. Usually, the answer is, nothing at all... it's just that people are busy with their lives, and they read the blog, or whatever, and they continue with the rest of their day...
Occasionally, though, someone reaches out and says something. I got a lovely email yesterday from someone who bought the Lovely Lutradur E book. Margie lives in South Africa; I'd never sent anything to South Africa before, and was a bit concerned that it would arrive. It did, of course, and she told me (and I quote, with her permission);
Many thanks for the CD. It arrived this morning!!

It is GREAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Inspiring and wonderful!!! Thank you, thank you,
thank you!!!!

Just what the doctor ordered!!

Keep well and good luck with your new book!

I'm a very happy chicken. It's bad enough with a blog, but with a book, you spend a great deal of time making it as good as you can. It's great when someone really enjoys it, and lets you know! Thanks, Margie. And if you'd like to see what she's so enthusiastic about, click here!

The image is a detail of 'Curvilinear', which you can find here

I was at a concert on Sunday night, six emerging bands playing in the semi finals of a competition. Afterwards, I took a leaf from my own book, and told the sound engineer that I thought he had done a great job. He did, too. He made sure that all six bands sounded as good as he could make them. Could you give someone some feedback today? Go on, you know you want to! Make someone's day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forward Planning

Things are hectic at present; exhibition opening on Friday, busy writing a new book, Etsy, a new shop to set up at Ehive... I don't really know where to turn. Rather than dive in, though, I've decided to take time out to breathe a little, and to create a forward plan. I'm going to go find a wall planner, and chart the next year or so, what needs to be done, when, and by whom (usually me, you understand, but occasionally I can delegate to Robin...). I like taking the longer view, sometimes. It's important to see where you're going in the longer term, remembering where you are likely to be busy, like around holidays, and when not... it means you can plan your time better. So that's how I'll spend the rest of my morning.

But in the afternoon.... I'm going to play in the shed! Can't be grown up all the time...

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Are You Doing Today?

Good question. I've had several people on the phone today, and they've all asked me that, expecting, I think, to hear that I'm painting. I wish. Instead, I've been on the computer most of the (somewhat chilly) day, emailing invites to the private view of my upcoming exhibition, filling in forms for said exhibition, talking to people about a potential new project, wondering what to include in my new UK online shop, packing CDs ready to send away. Anything, in fact, other than painting or sewing. Did I mention keeping the books up to date? Hard sums just aren't my thing, but needs must when the devil drives, or, in this case, expects you to complete a tax return. Sigh.

Soon, though, soon, I will be in the shed. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...

Meanwhile, Outburst, pictured above, mixed media on canvas, will be shown as part of our 'Mixing Up The Marks' exhibition which comprises mixed media,
textiles and photography. It is taking place from 24th October - 1st November at the Dragonfly Gallery, Wayland House, High St, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 6AR
Tel: 01953 883915 Fax: 01953 884084, and is open daily 10.00am – 4.00pm
except Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, closed Sunday.

I'm going to be in the gallery on Wednesday and Friday that week, demonstrating mixed media techniques and possibly a bit of lutradur, too... if you're interested, come and join me! I might even let you play, too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creative Surprises

Process is a wonderful thing. I say this advisedly; I haven't been able to do much in the way of art making, recently, too busy with the book, visitors and other distractions. Yesterday, though, I got my act together and finished five pieces, all of which had been smallish quilt tops, just lying around, waiting to be worked on. Except Curvilinear, above.

Curvilinear is, in fact, the back of a piece I had made and quilted, using this piece of discarded lutradur (waste not, want not, etc). I quilted it,right side up, and decided I really didn't like it. So I turned it over and thought...Oh... Somehow the quilting worked Just Right on the back, after I'd added a few bits here and there. There are surprises every day when you work creatively...just this one was more surprising than most.

Another creative surprise was the number of potential guinea pigs (yes, okay, cavies...) who volunteered to help me with the new book. Thank you all, I'll be in touch with you shortly. Please, though, no more volunteers! I have more than enough now, but I will offer more opportunities later in the year (I've got plans...).

Now to list this piece on Etsy...if I can get Merlin off my legs, and find a tape measure...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do You Believe In Gurus?

I follow Robert Genn's newsletter, Painters' Keys, on a regular basis; there's a lot of information to be found on the internet, and newsletters like this one are a great way of ensuring the occasional creative nudge. I have to confess, I don't read them all, and I doubt very much if Robert would expect me to... Anyway... He wrote an interesting piece here
which I felt I just had to respond to, about how gurus and mentors are rife in the art world (they are in the business world too, of course...). And about how many of them are in it for a quick buck. I hope you'll read the whole piece, it's considered and helpful, but I wanted to post my response here, too.

"This gave me a bit of a poke in the ribs. Along with a colleague, I've just published a book for textile artists on using Lutradur. And another two are in development, one on another non woven fabric, another on removing the practical and emotional blocks we put up between ourselves and our creativity. That one draws on my experience as a Self Development specialist and artist. And I've run several online groups for many years, to encourage growth and change in textile artists. Am I a guru? Err... not in my own head. In my own head, I'm a constantly changing and developing artist, sharing some of what I know for free, and some of it for (a very modest) gain. I may be a guru in your head, or my students' heads, but I'm not in my own, and if I ever I get to that point, I hope to goodness someone will take me gently aside and wake me up! When I work with people, I want to encourage them to believe that they have all the answers inside them already, and can learn to draw them out for themselves. Gurus, methinks, create a culture of dependency that is positively harmful to everyone, and stifles creativity."

My aim in writing books and working with individuals (I'm about to start offering coaching for textile artists) is always to show you that you are your own guru. Everything you need, you already have; it just takes a bit of thought to work it out, and it's often easier to do that with someone with no direct connection. Doth the lady protest too much? I hope not. And, like I say in my response, if I ever get to guru in my own head, I'm trusting my friends (you know who you are...) to flatten that tendency, kindly but firmly. You know you'll want to!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The More Things Change...

...the more they remain the same. Why is it that despite legislation, petitions and campaigning, it remains difficult for those of us who are not able bodied to access public spaces? Steve Wilkinson recently made a short film for the Politics Show (see it, and his comments, here), in which he highlights access issues. As an able bodied disabled person (work that one out...), I'm horrified that my less mobile friends have to deal with such discrimination on a daily basis. If you feel the same, and you live in the UK, please consider signing the petition Steve has created here
Basically, the petition calls for amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). To my mind, they seem relatively minor; but they would change many peoples' lives for the better.

I'm particularly disturbed by this issue because in 1980, I wrote a dissertation about the (then) Year of the Disabled and its effect on France. The issues that Steve highlights here are exactly the same as those that were highlighted for me decades ago. Like I said, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose... and how sad it is that we have to ask for legislation to produce changes that represent best practice, and are very low cost.

ps don't forget to check out Steve's website... I should also say that I usually limit my rants to my personal blog ; you can find a few posts about depression there, if you are interested.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saying Goodbye.

As you know, I was in York last weekend, meeting my sister. Robin and I arrived very early and went for a wander round the city; it is beautiful as always, and it is a long time since we have been there. We tried, and failed, to find the Quilt Museum, by following the signposts...but clearly went one signpost too far... But we did visit an incredible installation in a deconsecrated church, St Mary's, entitled 'The Memory Of Place', by Keiko Mukiade. It is incredibly beautiful and powerful, and as I went round it, I found myself thinking of my friend Lynn Bunis, who died recently, and of how much she would have liked it. Lynn was very much on my mind that weekend, as my sister was bringing fabric I had taken from her stash down to me.

The centre of the installation is a long pool of water, and, as it says in the artist's statement; 'Hand blown glass bowls and tea lights are prepared. These lighted bowls make a connetion to a loved one's memory. They are released onto the water from the east side of the pool, flowing gently to the west side, suggesting the sense of passage..' So, I lit one for Lynn, and wept a while, and said farewell... but I have been putting away her fabric in my workspace, and know that it isn't really goodbye, more a transition point.

Joy bright butterfly
vanished into darkness
shines in our hearts.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Well, there's lots to be happy about. As well as a book excerpt in Popular Patchwork's January edition (hurrah...), I've been mentioned in dispatches on Etsy today! The Storque is Etsy's in house magazine, and I've been included in this article on 'High End Textile Art'. I'm honoured to be there, as the article is a showcase for all kinds of textile art, and has some wonderful artists and images included. Please do check it out!

What else is celebration worthy? Apart from the pure joy of living, of course, which I'm full of, today. I'm delighted that some of you have volunteered to be guinea pigs for the new book... see the post below if you have no idea what I'm talking about... I'm very grateful to them, and will be in touch after the closing date. I will keep a list of names after the event, with your permission of course, so if you apply to be a guinea pig for this book, and are not successful, I'll get in touch for the next one... or for the coaching sessions I'm planning. So please do email me if you are interested.

Now to do some work... a bit on the book, and a bit for the exhibition at the end of the month. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun???

Today's image is Autumn Flurries, one of the quilts I have on Etsy. It seemed appropriate, now that there is a distinct chill in the air, and the leaves are drifting slowly downwards... my favourite time of year.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Looking For Guinea Pigs...

or victims, if you prefer!!

I'm in the process of writing a book about getting past the practical and mental blocks or barriers we may have, or put, between ourselves and creative work. I know, it's not an original idea for a book, but it is my approach thereto, and therefore original at least to me. I would like to try it out on some people, and intend to put together a yahoo group to do so. I can't offer any money (I don't have any ), but you do get to work through the process with me, and with the other participants. I would also throw in a free copy of the book when it is published, and a name check in the book itself. I may want to quote you, but if I do, I'll ask for your written permission, and I won't put any pressure on you to agree. I'm looking for around ten people to participate in this process. You can be based anywhere, as I'll be doing most of this work by email, though I can phone, too. I'm looking for a cross section of people, from beginners to more experienced crafters/artists; I hope the techniques will benefit everyone, though I should think that beginners would benefit most.

The book is in the early stages, but I'd be ready to run with the early chapters at the beginning of November. If you would like to take part in this, please email me by 20th October(my email address is in my Blogger profile). I'll notify everyone who has applied at that stage as to what is going on.

Actually, if I'm honest, I'm writing two books at once... I'm in the planning stages of a book about Evolon, which I love as much as I love lutradur! Well, I usually read at least two books at once, so why not? The image above is of an Evolon quilt, Flying Circus, which I think I may have shown here before, or which you may have seen at Festival of Quilts on the Spunart stand.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Long Time No See...

but I've been around. I've had visitors staying here, from Inverness, and we've been having a great time. And when they left on Friday, last week, I popped up to York to meet up with my sister and brother in law for the weekend. In amongst all that, of course, I still managed to take photographs for the 'scars/cracks' series of work that's ongoing, work from which will be shown in Watton at the end of this month in the 'Mixing Up The Marks' exhibit.

Mixing Up The Marks will have five of us showing together, three photographers, a textile artist and me. I'm not sure what to describe myself as, other than artist, as I seem to be showing and making mainly mixed media at present (that would be a good tongue twister... try muttering making mainly mixed media ten times...). It is taking place from 24th October - 1st November
at the Dragonfly Gallery, Wayland House, High St, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 6AR
Tel: 01953 883915 Fax: 01953 884084, and is open daily 10.00am – 4.00pm except Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, closed Sunday. In fact, I'm going today to arrange to spend some time demonstrating at the exhibit; I'll let you know what we arrange. Jill Arnold, my textile artist friend, will probably also do some demonstrating. If anyone wants to meet up with me at the exhibit, please email me; I'd be happy to come and talk to you about the exhibit, and maybe have a cup of coffee, too!

As well as all of this, I've been talking to Popular Patchwork; an excerpt from Lovely Lutradur will be featured in their January 2009 issue, but you don't have to wait that long to catch a glimpse of my work in their pages... the December issue will feature a little taster...and more... so do check them out! (For those of you not in the UK, Popular Patchwork is a UK magazine; click the link for more information). So, life is busy, and exciting!

Today's image is 'Setting Sun'; suddenly it's chilly, the colours are changing in the garden and the sun is distinctly lower in the sky... soon be Christmas. Of which more later in the week! More images of Setting Sun can be found by clicking here

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Picture Follow-Up

Now that my camera is working again, here are a couple of shots of the first of the collages made with Lynn's cloth. It is odd, working with fabric that someone else has chosen; that said, some of it was mine to start with, as is the case with the background cloth used for the first of the collages, Earth Mask. It was hand dyed cotton, with stripes of fabric paint added; I can't remember which of us added the paint, though I do think I did. And the zig zags are made of paper that came from my stash, hand made and painted with acrylics; everything else came from Lynn's stash. As did everything in the second collage, Gold, other than the big bead. Actually, I think I may hand stitch this one, just to add some this space!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to write. When I read on my friend Lynn's blog that she was fighting cancer, I was concerned. When I got in touch, I discovered that I was, in fact, too late; Lynn had died and her funeral was to be a couple of days later. I was stunned; Lynn was bright, breezy, full of life and creativity. Her Christmas card said we'd definitely get together this year. Sadly, that wasn' t to be.

I met Lynn Bunis when I was still living in Scotland. I got an email from her, saying that she was coming to live in Scotland from the US, was trying to get in touch with art quilters and could she come and visit my studio? Of course, I said, and she and husband Don arrived one afternoon. We all hit it off immediately, and it was to be the start of a fast friendship. When she finally did move over here, I donated some of my fabric to her stash, as any quilter would. And besides, I was moving myself, to Norfolk, and it was a good way of trimming down the amount I had to move...

I went up to see Don last week in Comrie, where he and Lynn had built a home together. The house is full of her art quilts, and they look stunning. Don had invited me to come and take some of her stash and bring it back to Norfolk. I was, of course, honoured to do so. Those of you who know me as a fabric junkie may rest assured that I did leave some behind for the rest of Lynn's quilting friends, though perhaps not as much as I might have done... I hope Lynn would have approved. Other people's stashes are always so much better than one's own; but on this occasion, I found fabric of mine still interwoven amongst her own hand dyes and some gorgeous commercial prints. I took fabrics that I thought would stretch me a bit, as well as things that I felt really comfortable with. It will be interesting to see what comes of using this new source of inspiration.

There was rather too much fabric to take back with me on the train, so most of it is now stored in my sister's house, waiting for transfer in October, when we will meet in York for the weekend. But I did take a small bag of scraps with me, and I have begun making collages for next year's Collage Mania. Collage Mania is being headed up by Karen Stiehl Osborn this year, and, as always, is in aid of the American Cancer Society. It seemed like a great idea to use some of Lynn's stash to support a cancer charity. I hope many other artists will take part; it's a wonderful cause.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Having A Good Time...

working with the lutradur I coloured whilst demonstrating at Festival of Quilts. The more I work with both lutradur and evolon, the more I discover, which is a great thing. I love to learn new things, it's an important part of what I do. This piece was made just before FOQ, some of you may have seen it on the stall. It's a piece of light lutradur, hand dyed in pinks, turquoises and greens, over a monoprint. The piece is called 'In The Trees', and the quilting emphasises some of the marks that lie beneath the lutradur surface. Some of them, though, have been left as marks; see if you can see them. There are close up shots here

I'm going to be away this weekend, spending some time with my sister and her family, and that, too, will be having a good time! We're going to Alton Towers, complete with small fry. I've never been; expect some new work around play and funfairs when I get back!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Another Opening...

but, for me, not any old show, but the first show I've taken part in in Cambridge. 'Another Brick In The Wall?' is a show of Outsider Art. It's interesting that at this point in my life, where I really don't feel like an outsider, much, at all, I seem to qualify as one by dint of my mental health (or lack of it...). It is an interesting show, nonetheless, mainly paintings. You can find more information about the exhibit, and the thinking behind it, here.

I submitted two pieces, one of which, a textile, was selected. Those of you who are familiar with my work over a period of years may possibly realise that in fact, this piece, Cracking Up/Pulling Myself Together, is an amalgam of two works. The two pieces, combined, seemed to say much more than they did apart. And so they are, now, one. Synergy is a wonderful thing. Mysterious, but wonderful. The first, Cracking Up, I have spoken about in previous posts. Its inspiration was drawn in part from Hunstanton Cliffs, which I find fascinating. They are made of chalk, and constantly changing, cracking up, reforming... a bit like me. The second, 'Pulling Myself Together', was made much earlier, from silks and cottons which were hand dyed and painted. So many depressed people are told to 'pull themselves together', often by professionals, who ought to know better (but clearly don't). It's difficult to pull yourself together when there are parts of your memory missing; which bits do you pull first, and how would you make a complete picture without the missing bits?

I find myself working more and more with these ideas. What does it mean to be well, to be ill, to change? I've talked on the blog before about scars; seen as negative things, they are, to me at least, signs of positive change, healing and growth. The same goes for erosion; you can see it as a loss, or as a gain. Certainly, it is a sign of change. And change is a good thing. If nothing else, it means we're not dead yet...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Inner Landscapes

I've been fighting tiredness all week, as you can tell, probably, by the paucity of posts this week. Today, though, I thought I would go and play in The Little Green Shed. I'm enjoying working with mixed media, and have produced a couple of Inner Landscape pieces, both of which seem to reflect my current state of mind, or should that be health? I'm not sure. Perhaps both.

The first is 'Overloaded', the second, 'Overwhelmed', both small mixed media pieces on mountboard. I suspect everyone has felt like this at some time or another. Hopefully, I won't be feeling like this much longer!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

For The First Time...

since FOQ, I feel like getting some work done. Before I left, I was contemplating the work I need to do for the exhibition I'm putting on in October with my friend Jill, family and friend (more of that another day). It's called 'Mixing Up The Marks', and I thought I would use the opportunity to do some exploring on the theme of scars and cracks. I've been taking photographs of cracked walls and pavements, and this morning began manipulating them with Paint Shop Pro. I've got the first of them printed out and stitched into, and got some interesting fibres and threads from my friend Myfanwy, perhaps better known to the blogging world as Sassalynne or Nuvofelt So, plenty of things to play with in that department!!

But I think before I do that, I'll quilt the piece in the picture, Line Talks To Circle. The next book (I know, I know...) will be about Evolon, and this is an experimental piece for that, featuring some unusual colourants. I like it a lot, it has a strength to it that feels right, somehow. And despite the fact that it's a holiday weekend, the weather is telling me that it's best to Stay Indoors... so I'll be up in the quilt studios this afternoon, methinks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


is something that most people assume is required for textiles, particularly patchwork and quilting. I've always thought that it was not a virtue that I possessed. That said, I do wait patiently for the right time to work with something. The image that forms the basis of this piece has been sitting on my computer for a long time, several months. Every time I looked at it, I thought, must do something with it... finally, I did. I manipulated the image a bit, put it onto lutradur and... the rest is in the Lovely Lutradur book, if you want the fine details; it became one of the projects in that section. (Click on the icon at the top right hand side of the blog page for more details).I think it did us good to wait, both image and me. I discovered a new way of using lutradur, and the image...well, who knows ...but I think it looks better than it did to begin with.

Friday, August 22, 2008

All The Fun Of The Show... this case, the Spunart team in a few quiet moments before the mayhem began at the start of Sunday. You may recognise a few of my quilts hanging behind them; thank you to the lovely people who commented that they look much better in real life! You can probably tell that the messy desk at the front of the stand is mine; I create mayhem wherever I go, co opting space madly. I had great fun talking about Lutradur and Evolon both, my favourite textiles. Wonder what other industrial products can be turned to artful uses... Mervyn, get your thinking cap on!

It was great to meet fellow bloggers and Etsians at the show, and there are tentative plans for a retreat later in the year. Amazing what you can arrange in a few minutes between demos! I had a ball, but I have to admit I'm really tired still, so I may be quite quiet for a while. Or not...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lutradur Lovelies!

If you haven't realised it by now, I am going up to Birmingham on Friday to the Festival of Quilts, where I will be demonstrating how to colour lutradur on the Spunart stand (just behind Ricky Tims, apparently...wonder if he sings while he works, too...?). And, of course, I'll have copies of Lovely Lutradur with me... but I thought I'd bring some small bits and pieces made with lutradur so that you can see what I use it for. Small pieces of work, ACEOs and postcards, for instance, as well as these pretty journals.

I think these journals would be an ideal accompaniment to a finished quilt, whether traditional or art. Information about the quilt, its making and its care, would all sit beautifully in a wee book like this. They could even be customised for each quilt. I've made a dozen to bring with me, each one different, and of course, they too will be for sale.

I'm really looking forward to this; I enjoy demonstrating...and chatting... please do come and say hello if you are visiting the festival! And if you can't, but would really love a journal, don't worry, I'll be listing them on Etsy when I return. And if you really can't wait for a copy of Lovely Lutradur, click on the image of the book on the top right hand corner of this blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Moving On...More Work

Well, yes. I finished this piece, Flying Circus, just in time for it to go to the Spunart stand at FOQ, along with other pieces of my work, for part of the display there. I've also sent some small pieces, so that visitors to the stand can see and feel for themselves the effects you can get using lutradur of different weights. Flying Circus is made from Evolon, a polyester microfibre made by those clever Lutradur people. I'm hard pressed to tell you which of the two is my favourite, lutradur or evolon, so I've recently taken to using them both at once, which solves the problem nicely!

Flying Circus is one of the few pieces I've added hand stitch to. I'm so pleased with the results that I have the nasty feeling I'll be doing more of it, especially to Evolon, as it adds a pleasing textural contrast. It's a small piece, but I think it has a strong effect.

I was told last week that one of my lutradur pieces, 'Cracking Up/Pulling Myself Together' has been accepted to a show in Cambridge next month; I'm delighted. There will be a wide selection of work there; I'll let you know all the details when I have them.

Friday, August 08, 2008

It's Been A While...

but for a very good reason. Lovely Lutradur is finished, and as you can see, is piling up on my living room carpet! Preorders are going out in the next day or so, and we're accepting orders by email; just contact Dijanne or myself. If you would prefer to order online without emailing us, I'll also set up information on the other blog where you can find a complete listing of the contents as well as a Paypal payment button.

So.... what about Lovely Lutradur? Well, it's an E-Book, or book on CD. It is supplied as two PDF files, so you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free on the net. An E-book works just like a normal book, without the paper, of course, and it does the odd advantage. One of them is that it has 'bookmark' icons. If you click the bookmark icon on the left of the page, a list of chapter headings will pop up. Click on one of those, and you are immediately taken to the relevant chapter of the book. Handy, huh?

The book is divided into several parts. First, we explain about Lutradur itself, then we go on and talk about how to colour it and use it, including a step by step visual guide by Dijanne that shows the whole process as she makes one particular piece. The third section of the book is a series of projects, which we hope will show you how we use lutradur, and give you lots of ideas for using it yourself. And of course, there is the ever important suppliers list. On a separate file, there is a gallery, full of images of our work, and information about the specific pieces. In all, 88 pages of textile temptations!

Australia $25 inclusive of postage
United Kingdom 12 GBP- inclusive of postage
Europe 15 Euros inclusive of postage
USA $24 inclusive of postage

I'll be at Festival of Quilts on Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday at the Spunart stand (apparently we're just behind Ricky Tims!), with CDs, a laptop and a hard copy of the book. Why not come and say hello, and check it out!

Friday, July 25, 2008


If you were listening, you probably heard me screaming at the other side of the world. When the power failed for the fourth time, this time in the middle of saving an important document, you just know that I was less than impressed. Murderous, really. Grrrrrrrrrr. You don't know how much you rely on electricity until it isn't there...

I talked about the workshop I attended last weekend, but didn't supply the promised image, so here you are. The print on the left was the first I made, and the second, the last. In between, there was an interesting journey.

One of the tasks we had in the poetry writing session was to go look around and write down words that described ... something. The exhibit that was ongoing, how we felt, whatever. When we came back, we were tasked with writing a haiku using only a selection of those words. This is mine;

Unexpected dance
Imagine starfish texture
Remember delight.

We wrote all sorts of other poetry, too, most of it in Japanese forms. I really did write more that morning than I have done for the past five years, I think, poetry, at least. Then, we had to make a print based on one of the poems; I chose the one above, and worked with a human form, though it seemed to have nothing much to do with the poem, really. It did chime with 'unexpected dance', however, as you can see. By the time I'd made the last one, I was still playing in my head with the idea of image and text...but had left the poem somewhere behind, other than that theme of unexpected dance. Two figures, and the idea of drawing, both towards and away. Which is doing what? I don't really know. I'm not really sure how I got there, to be honest, but it was a good place to reach, and I could happily have continued making prints for hours.

Credit where credit is due; the workshop leaders were amazing. Lisa D'Onofrio and Annette Rolston work together as InPrint If you get the chance to work with them, run, don't walk, and prepare to be amazed!

Monday, July 21, 2008


things just come together. Like this piece and the glass embellishment that is on it. I have had this piece lying about for a while, and picked it up last week to do a little more stitching on it. And then I remembered the pieces of glass that my etsy friend Mike made for me, and suddenly a lacklustre piece had found the extra something that it needed. Another piece finished; Lost Planet.

I went to a workshop on Saturday, too, and that brought wonders. I wrote more poetry in a morning than I've done in the past five years, which pleased me no end, and made art based on the poetry, and including some of the words, in the afternoon. But more about that tomorrow... in the meantime, the image shows 'Lost Planet'. There are more detailed images here, if you wish to see them.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Finishing Touches

Kate is back staying with me for a while, ostensibly to help me get organised, but also to play in the shed... Both of us were tired today, though, and so I decided to work in the cloth studio today. As well as working on a larger piece (lutradur and evolon combined) to hang in the SpunArt booth at Festival of Quilts this year, I finished off a couple of pieces that had been lying around almost finished, but somehow lacking something. I hope I've found the 'something' now. One of them needs beads attaching, another needs its edges trimming. This one, though, is all but finished. An Evolon piece, double postcard sized, it needed some stitch to finish it off. I'm fairly pleased; the colours in this one are subtle, and merge together nicely. It may well come with me to FOQ also.

In the next day or so, I'm going to make some more papers for dyeing; the last batch are nearly done, and I'm emerging from a reds and oranges period... or maybe I'm not! But I do want to work with some blues and we'll see...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Childhood Memories...

are rare for me. I had the childhood from hell, and it's difficult to remember things about it, presumably because they have been edited out for very good reasons. One thing I do remember, though, and it is, unsurprisingly, an image. I was given a children's bible, and there was a striking image of the Virgin Mary, presumably just after the conversation she had with the angel who came to her. The subtitle was 'And Mary pondered those things, and held them close in her heart'. Or words to that effect.

I'm not a Christian, any more. I have spiritual beliefs, that I won't bore you with, some of which are not unlike a number of the beliefs held by believers of a variety of faith. But for some reason, probably the same reason that finds me in the car, belting out a traditional singers' version of 'I To The Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes', that image and quotation stayed with me. When I made the painting above, I didn't understand what it was saying. And then, one day, that quotation popped unbidden into my mind. And in my eyes, at least, there's Mary, trying to come to terms with some remarkable news, with an angel, or someone, in the background, looking on. For she must have done a lot of thinking, over a long period of time, before the birth; we all do.

I'm not trying to offend anyone, here... just taking that story, that thought, that memory, and making art with it. I rather like the piece (a small oil painting). If you are interested, there are more images here

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Come In, No 50 000....

your time's up! My 50 000 viewer is in the US, in Mesquite, Nevada, to be precise. Whoever you are, you were looking at 'Dancers' on June 30 at around 6.10pm your time. Congratulations! Please email me with your ISP number, and let me know whether you'd prefer a textile or painting.

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun! I looked away for a day or so and the 50 000 visitor came, and went, and I wasn't around to blow a fanfare! I would, though, like to thank all of you who come to visit me here, regular or occasional; I really appreciate your visits, and though I can't always reply, I do read every comment, and think about them, too.

I've spent today in the shed, or most of it, anyway (the day, not the shed...). I photographed a piece that I intend to submit to a juried exhibit in Cambridge, made a few journal covers, and a couple of small painted pieces, as well as finishing off a piece that has been kicking around for a while. It was okay, but nothing special; I think, I hope, it looks much better now that I've spent a bit more time on it, throwing paint... I now have interesting walls inside and outside the shed, not to mention some patches of orange grass... hmm.

Meantime, the image is Summer, Somewhere, which I don't think I've shown you before. If I have, my apologies! It can be found here in more detail, if you are interested. It's a small acrylic painting, and looks like I feel today, hot, hot, hot.