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Monday, October 26, 2009


but not exactly what I expected. I'm spending today in the gallery, and now that I've got the exhibit how I want it, complete with labels, I'm working on... well...not what I intended to work on. I intended to work on the image above, a piece of Evolon that has been transfer dyed in four layers (or was it five...I forget). But somehow the little box with the correct foot for my old Bernina (which lives here part time) has disappeared in the chaos which is the Gallery's art supplies, so instead, I'm writing some instructions for a pattern. I rarely make pieces that lend themselves to patterns, or instructions, and in truth, this will be a pattern with a difference. It will tell you how to make a particular wall hanging...but it will also give you lots of control over the size and look of the piece, too. Mind you, I've never actually used a pattern, so maybe that's what all patterns do? If so, better tell me now before I make an idiot of myself...

The piece I'm writing the pattern for is called 'Autumn Rain'. I originally made it with hand dyes, but I am writing the pattern for commercial fabrics as well as hand we'll see how that works today. I'll pop a picture of it up on the next blog, along with some images of the show.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Workshop Wonders

Just in case you were wondering what it was we get up to on a Tuesday night at the Gallery, here are some images of a recent show of student work. So far this year, we've tried a wide variety of things, from paste papers and nature printing through to altered books. We've even moved into basic 3D, as you can see from the Funky Chicken plaque (isn't it fab?). And that's just with the grown ups! The kids made the wonderful altered shoes you can see in one of the images; the adults haven't quite picked up the courage to do that yet, but I suspect it's only a matter of time!

At the moment, we're working with photographs, using a favourite photo as inspiration to produce different kinds of work. I don't know about you, but I take huge amounts of images, but often they are left on the disc to moulder as I collect even more... So we're working this month on just how to use those images. I'll share some images at the end of the exercise...though that might be some time in the future; we're finding more and more inspiration in the smallest of details.

Next week at the Gallery, my friend Jill and I are hanging a textile exhibition, entitled 'Textile Alternatives'. As well as our own work, we'll be showing a wide range of work, some of which stretches the boundaries of our understanding of what 'textile' means. I hope we'll see some of you there... it opens on Saturday 24 October, and runs til the following Saturday. Open 9.30am to5pm Monday to Saturday, closed on Sundays. Check out the Gallery web page for location and more details.

And talking about Alternatives, as we were... I've given up the ownership of the Alternative Quilt List on Yahoogroups, and delivered it into the competent and caring hands of my friend and fellow artist Dijanne Cevaal. I hope it continues to grow and change. I have been very busy of late (you may have noticed a greater paucity of posts than usual around here), and feel that it's time for me to hand over the reins. Good luck, Dij!

ps There are a number of the snow leopard t shirts left over; if you would like to buy one, drop me an email. They are very low cost, and all proceeds go the the Snow Leopard Trust.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plus Ca Change... c'est la meme chose... I don't quite think this was the intention behind the quotation, but in a way, it's very fitting. Voici the French version of Lovely Lutradur, 'Ravissant Lutradur'. Doesn't it look great? It is, of course, the same book, just translated and presented slightly differently, but it does the same thing as the old one, honest!! I hope our Francophone readers really enjoy it.

I'm working today on the final draft of Exquisite Evolon, before sending it to the designer. It seems to have taken forever, but I do hope the wait will have been worth it for everyone who has expressed an interest in this new book. I'm hoping it will be ready to take with me to Harrogate, so fingers crossed!

I've really been busy, recently, much of it the admin work behind the business; putting together a quote for the school which is interested in a textile project next year, for instance. That involves a six foot long Evolon snake... watch this space! I've also been saving the Snow Leopard, one tshirt at a time... when I find my camera I'll upload a shot or two of the tshirts we are selling at the gallery; every single penny goes to the charity. They are for sale during the exhibition of students work at the gallery this week; work from adults and kids, from altered shoes through paintings to collage and altered books. Everyone has been having fun, and it took the show for some of us to realise just how good the work is. Congratulations to everyone on their success and their hard work!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Professional Procrastination

Never put off til tomorrow what you can put off til next week... no, that's not right, is it? But lots of people put things off indefinitely, and I can be numbered amongst them, sometimes... Usually, I'm waiting for 'the right time'. That special, elusive 'right' time, when I'll a. feel like it b. have everything available c. want to do it d. know I can do it e. have the time to do it....and I'm sure there are lots of other things that have to be in place before I can do whatever it is.

Now, if what I'm trying to do is something unpleasant, you could perhaps see the point in putting it off. But often, what I'm aiming to do is, in fact, what I WANT to be doing...or so I say, anyway. So what's wrong with that picture? I don't let anything get in between me and a bar of chocolate (my friends and colleagues will confirm that). So why would I let things get in the way of making art? Sometimes it's to do with not being ready. I have an idea for the new Quilters Guild Contemporary Quilt Group challenge, for instance. It's part of a much larger idea I have about scars, erosion and things breaking through to the surface from the depths. I've been playing with this for a while, working with marks and images in between the writing of the books. Sitting here, now, thinking about it, that series has been ready to make for a while. I've just been doing other things, like writing, and the Paid Job, and Festival of Quilts. All of those things are great fun, and a good way to spend my time. However, and it's a big however, it doesn't get the art made.

So, what do I really want? At the moment, I want to finish the Evolon book, which is so nearly done that it hurts, to send away all the orders I've had for the completed book over the last few days (thank you all!) and to call the bank for information that I need to complete my tax form. And oh, yes, I want to make art. So, today and tomorrow, I have the time I need to clear my feet, fulfil those orders, meet with the art teacher at the school to discuss a potential project, nip to the doctor's to collect my happy pills (always important!). I'll also run a workshop on Tuesday night, and hopefully go to my friend Jill's opening (it's her MA finals show, and I don't want to miss it). I might even manage to shoehorn a haircut into Tuesday pm... And then I have three days at work. And then it's the weekend, and I have four whole days to focus on the art and the book.

Procrastination is fine, if you've got the time for it. I don't. So I have focussed on the essentials, my commitments in the short term, and I've decided how to tackle them. Many of these things are just a phonecall away. That takes five minutes from a whole day. The post office will take an hour, so will the school visit. But that's still a lot of time to get moving on what needs to be done. I'll be able to sit down with the Evolon manuscript and see exactly where I am with it, and scope out how I'm going to finish it in the next week or so. I've done enough worrying about fixing it; now it's time to fix it. Deep breath, and on it goes.

I talk about procrastination at some length in the Creative Focus book. It doesn't get a chapter to itself, though; it isn't that important. We just make it important in our heads. A bit of planning and a lot of focus gets us to where we want to be, and quickly, too. And I might just get a small bar of chocolate to reward myself with after all that work...I am on a diet, after all! But the main reward for this kind of planning is the feeling you get afterwards, that you have achieved everything you needed to, and the time ahead is now clear to get on with what you really want to do.

ps You know you're not making enough art when you can't find a new photo for a blog post... this one is 'Sun God', one of the projects in the upcoming Evolon book, a rust dyed and stamped piece of Evolon, ready for stitch.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

At Last...

I've managed to put Lovely Lutradur The Book up onto my other blog, complete with Paypal buttons. It takes a while to get everything just so... so here's hoping I haven't missed any errors. I've included an extract from the book, which explains why Dijanne and I love this fabric so much; I hope you'll find it interesting. Just click on the red link above to check it out.

I'm finding that The Day Job doesn't just take time; it takes a lot of energy, too, so I'm trying to cut back in places; deciding what to cut back on is challenging, I'm finding. I recently bought a jigsaw to alter, having conveniently forgotten that altered stuff is one of the areas I'm withdrawing from... I dare say I'll remember given time! I've got a textile exhibition to work towards in late October, too, so it'll need to take precedence for now.

That said, I have an appointment with a Primary School to discuss a possible textile art project for next year. I think it would be great fun to work with kids, and give them possibly their first taste of working in textiles. I have some ideas already; the project will be based around the Rainbow Serpent, an Aboriginal creation story. It'll be interesting to see what the teachers think. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 31, 2009

At last... they are, in glorious technicolour. Lovely Lutradur and Finding Your Creative Focus had their respective debuts at Festival Of Quilts, and now they're popping up for sale on my other blog
Or at least, Finding Focus is there, Lovely Lutradur will appear later on today, or possibly tomorrow. I've been catching up with my admin work today, sending some books away, some CDs too. Self employed persons don't get Bank Holidays, and neither do those of us who work Wednesday to Friday (aww...). Now all that remains is for me to finish the Exquisite Evolon book, which is in the process of having its gallery put to rights, and I'll have that with me at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. Hurrah!

I had a great time at Festival of Quilts, particularly teaching. I love teaching, and everyone in the classes rose to the occasion, and seemed to go away happy, and with some lovely work in process, too. For once, I managed not to buy much at all in the way of supplies, but then, I was really busy... and finally, on Sunday, managed to make the book with Lutradur XL that I'd been promising I'd make all week... For those of you wondering what Lutradur XL is, it's a heavy weight lutradur, which, as well as being interesting to work with in its own right, is a wonderful substitute for Pelmet Vilene. I prefer it, in fact, as it doesn't give off fluff in the sewing machine, and it takes colour much better than Pelmet Vilene, particularly line. So...some experiments with that, maybe even a new book... watch this space!

Tomorrow is gallery day, which is always fun. I usually take hand work to do, but might just play with my sewing machine, for fun. There's a piece of Evolon which I transfer dyed which is just begging to be stitched... And then, I have the workshop in the evening, which we've transferred from the Wednesday night, as I now work three days a week, and was finding it too tiring to zoom around at work all day and then zoom around in the gallery in the evening. We are meant to be working on Beautiful Backgrounds, but last week's class on designing and making dolls was very well received, and the people who attended want to make more dolls. So we might end up with two classes running simultaneously... stranger things have happened. At least I'm flexible...

Monday, August 10, 2009


there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't an oncoming train! The image here is the front cover of my new book, my first solo effort, 'Finding Your Creative Focus'. Didn't Terry do a great job? I got the proof image at the weekend, and the book, along with Lovely Lutradur, should be completely printed and ready to go to FOQ by Friday this week. It's really exciting!!! And Lovely Lutradur is to come out in French in September, at the Carrefour in Alsace. That's exciting, too; my lutradur quilts are in France as we speak, being photographed for this new edition.

Creative work, other than the ongoing work on the Evolon book, is at a standstill, pretty much, as I prepare for the classes that I'll be teaching at Festival of Quilts. Preparing packs always takes more time than you would think, and I like to have handouts ready for everything I teach. The classes I'm teaching at FOQ are new, so that means working things out from scratch, trying to make them the best that I can, and fun for the participants, too. I'm looking forward to getting back to normal, with the Evolon book finished, the workshops completed and a chance to get back into the shed!

Monday, August 03, 2009

There's The Good News....

and the not so good news.... but there's more good than bad, hurrah! And even the bad, has some good attached...

The good news is that I'm back, after a long blog break which has had a lot to do with me returning to the world of Paid Employment, and combining it with Self Employment, and struggling to find the time to turn round, much less write my blog... The good news is that I'll be at Festival of Quilts, and when I'm not teaching, I'll be demonstrating at Spunart's stand (D25). Anyone coming to my Instant Postcards workshop will have the chance to work with the new Lutradur XL, which I think is amazing. It will make fab postcards, and I'm looking forward to making textile and mixed media books with it. I used the sample that Spunart sent me to back some small quilts; it's great for that, too. So hopefully I won't have to do too much ironing at FOQ this year; I plan to make a small book while I'm there.

And I'm not coming alone; I'm bringing two books with me. Lovely Lutradur is at the printers as we speak, along with 'Finding Your Creative Focus', my book on getting round creative blocks. They will be available from me during FOQ, and I'll be selling them through the Other Blog, as we did with the CDs (which will still be available).

The bad news, or the less good news, is that Exquisite Evolon is not going to be ready for this year's FOQ, though it will be ready by mid September, according to my printers. Part of the reason for that is that I'm working with a wonderful photographer, Haydn Rodgers, who has introduced me to his friend, designer Terry Symonds, who has created amazing covers for Lovely Lutradur's printed version, as well as 'Finding Your Creative Focus'. He is now going to work his magic on Exquisite Evolon; I'm sure you'll find it will have been worth the wait! In the meantime, feast your eyes on a couple of Haydn's photos for Exquisite Evolon, showing the jacket that is one of the projects in the book. There is layer upon layer of surface design on the jacket, and there are step by step directions on how to achieve this look, as well as the construction methods. Hope you like it as much as I do!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Workshop Fun

...and transfer dyeing is great fun, especially when there's a group. This was last week's workshop in full swing, working with transfer dyes and lutradur. A good deal of hilarity masked the fact that everyone was actually working pretty hard. We discovered lots about transfer dyes, and about lutradur, too, which, considering I was squashing elements of two different one day workshops into one two hour session, was possibly not surprising. As you can see, the dog was the only one who was completely disinterested in the whole affair; Lucky is a sweetie, but she doesn't do art....she does, however, enjoy the biscuits at coffee time.

It's interesting to run workshops in a gallery space; when you are looking for examples of good design, or a particular approach to work, there is always something to refer to on the walls. Or you can use them as inspiration, as you can see from one of the images here, which is a drawing of one of my totem dolls on a piece of lutradur. I thought, myself, it looked like Tina Turner in full flow... And if you want to refresh your memory about transfer dyeing, there's a post about it here

We're focussing on words this month... last night, we worked with found text, next week, we're making little translucent paper bowls with individual words trapped within them. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


was always something I avoided. Recently, though, I've been making quite a few... and this is the most recent, made as a sample for my class on Wednesday at The Gallery, Dereham. It's amazing how much can be done with such a limited palette, and really not many materials. We'll all be making something using those principles tomorrow night.

When I do teach workshops, I rarely ever provide a 'pattern' or a specific set of instructions. Instead, I make suggestions, show what is possible, or at least, what I think is possible at this point; you might find there's yet more you can do with what I'm showing you. And that's the joy of teaching workshops in this way; if you provide six people with the same materials and the same instruction, they can produce six completely different pieces of art. Of course, if you want to copy what I've made, you can...but I'm pretty sure that yours will turn out with a different 'feel' to mine. Why not try it?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


...again. I went into The Little Green Shed (TLGS to its friends)to redo one of the projects in the Exquisite Evolon book which I'm working on, which was fine. But then I had spare paint. And then I knocked some paint over. And all that resulted in a couple of interesting monoprints, which you'll see some other time, and this interesting piece called 'Mask' (click on the image to see a larger version, I think it's worth it...but then, I would...). It is A4 sized, and ready to stitch...or not... I can't make up my mind. Does textile art have to have stitch? Discuss.

I was delighted to see that Sandy had a good time at TLGS at the weekend...and that was without cake... I hope everyone who came over the weekend had as good a time as I did! See pictures of TLGS, and one of wee me, here

And now, of course, I'll have to tidy up TLGS for the last weekend of Norfolk Open Studios. There may not be cake this time, as I can't stretch a birthday quite that far, but there are always biscuits...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Featured In Despatches...

in this case, a local website, covering the nearby village of North Elmham and information about Open Studios. Although I don't live in the village, I was fortunate to be considered close enough to count as a 'local' artist. Mike and Meg from the website came to visit yesterday. We had a very pleasant cup of coffee and chat in the conservatory, and Advo managed to sit still long enough to get his portrait taken...he looks glorious! Click on the 'Slide Show' (just below my name)to see him and other images of my work and the Little Green Shed.

I've had a bit of a day off, today, drifting around doing housework, albeit rather grudgingly, and sending correspondence, including my application for ISBN numbers for the books I'm intending to publish. Exquisite Evolon is coming on steadily, while Finding Your Creative Focus is with its editor. And I really must remember to send my Little Gem (pictured above) to the coordinator. Wonder who will win it...? New ones are being added regularly; check out the site!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Quick Glimpse...

...of my conservatory, all dressed up for Open Studios. Actually, I've moved things around a bit since then, but you get the general idea, I'm sure. There are paintings on the walls, too, more photos to follow over the next few days...and of course, the studio is bedecked, too. Robin's comment was 'No wonder we have no room in the house'.

It's been an interesting time, this. I'm waiting to be interviewed by a village website , who want to feature local Open Studios artists. I don't live in that village, but it is close by, and our doctors' surgery is there, so I go quite often. Given that it's my first ever Open Studio, I'm pleased to have had about fifteen visitors in the first couple of days, most of them textile people. So it's no surprise that some of my cloth has sold, and enquiries have been made about workshops. We had wine and nibbles on Sunday, a very civilised way to spend an afternoon, sipping chilled white and talking about art. This Sunday, though, will have a different feel. Probably more wine, I admit, but also cake, as it's my birthday, and I like an excuse to have a BIG cake!

The painting featured here is untitled, though if anyone has a title suggestion, I'm always willing to listen. It's a very peaceful oil, with lots of texture. See what you think. To my surprise, there are more painted and mixed media pieces than there are textiles, but then I'm not showing things that will feature in Exquisite Evolon, which is most of my current output. So there'll be lots of textiles to see next year, and at Festival of Quilts, too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Small Is Beautiful...

...both in itself, aesthetically, and to potential buyers, who would like to have something, but don't have the cash to buy a large piece. Which is why I make greetings cards, in this case for Open Studios. They are small, hopefully beautiful, and not expensive, either. The thing that is different about my cards is that each one is unique, not a reproduction in sight. The only prints are artists prints, usually a monoprint or possibly a section of a block print. The difference is that each one has been hand made and signed by my own fair (albeit usually paint covered) hands. The cards in the picture are mixed media paintings. I'm really pleased with the way they have turned out, and want to go and buy some more watercolour paper, so I can make some more! I might even make some larger pieces in this way, too.... I think they have a dreamy feel to them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


mean all kinds of work that you really don't think of. Open Studios starts next weekend, so this weekend is a flurry of activity. Robin is framing and mounting pictures and textiles. I'm hanging paintings in the conservatory, putting hanging strings on other paintings, to be hung in the shed, and unearthing the spare easel from beneath sundry layers of Other Things (mostly cloth). This is pretty much the pattern for the week to come... looking for things, putting things away, making more things (like my monoprinted greetings cards), and generally Getting Ready. And that's as well as the regular things that happen, like the workshops at the gallery (transfer dyeing is this week's topic), and working on the Exquisite Evolon book. So if I'm quiet this week, you know what I'm about.

One thing it is doing for me is bringing me to the realisation that I've got quite a large inventory. No wonder I've not got room for anything in the house, not to mention the studio. The image is one of the small paintings that will be hanging in the Little Green Shed.. why not come and see it in person?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Silk And Rust...

are sometimes a marriage made in heaven... I hope you agree. I've been spending time at the gallery recently, sitting in their (very comfortable) sofa, and stitching. It was Judy's birthday yesterday, so the stitching was interspersed with birthday cake, very nice, too. And one customer bought one of my mixed media pieces, so things were going swimmingly as far as I was concerned, anyway.

I thought you might like a look at this particular work in process. It's made from a piece of habotai silk, which has been rust dyed. I'm hand stitching with yarn hand dyed by Myfanwy Hart, which is going very nicely with the overall feel and colours in the piece. I'm varying the length and density of the stitches, and it's giving a wonderful textured feel. I'm pleased...and hope to have it ready in time for Open Studios, which starts on Saturday. The time has just flown past, though, so it's more likely you'll find me still stitching on it next weekend. Please do drop in if you can; whilst I'm only open at weekends, I'm more than happy to make arrangements to see you outwith those days.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Last Chance...

to buy a fab collage from Collage Mania, in aid of the American Cancer Society. I have several pieces on offer here, only one of which has sold so far and there are some wonderful pieces from some great artists still on offer. And I was delighted and surprised to find one of my ACEOs featured on ACEO Showcase today, and in a spotlight feature on ByHand It's always a joy to have the support of other artists, and I'm constantly amazed by and grateful for their generosity.

I'm preparing for a workshop in Dereham tomorrow morning, wondering about what to take with me to do... probably the piece I was working on last time, a piece of rust dyed silk which I'm stitching by hand. Or maybe I could take the Embellisher along, I haven't worked with it for ages, and it would be fun to get some work of that kind done. A couple of the pieces I have in Collage Mania were made with the embellisher...which brings us full circle to the top of the post. Go take a look at those won't regret it! The image featured here is my favourite of the submissions I made, called 'Being Blue'.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Keyhole Kate

I mentioned at some point that I was going to make dolls as one of the projects for the Evolon book. I spent some time today working on them, and here's a preview of the prototypes. Both are called 'Keyhole Kate', and they are, I think, great fun to look at and quick and easy to make. The small one is a brooch; the larger, a proper 'stuffed' doll, about I love the keyhole shape; it just asks to be reinterpreted as a doll... and here she is, in her beaded best. I've been making all kinds of other bits and pieces for Exquisite Evolon, including an interesting bag, something I rarely do. I'm really looking forward to FOQ; I'm teaching a workshop on working in series, and we'll be using Evolon. The more I use it, the more I like it!

Tomorrow's workshop at the gallery focusses on making little books, using some of the paste papers we made last time. I didn't get photos of the papers, though they are at present in my book press, flattening out, but I will remember my camera tomorrow, and we'll be able to look at the work. Last week's workshop was great fun, lots of laughing, coffee, wine (for those of us not driving) and chocolate... so roll on more fun tomorrow!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Coming Soon... first ever Open Studio. The patio and paths have been powerwashed, the studio tidied up a bit, and now I need to start thinking about which work to include; textiles, of course, some paintings, some cloth for sale, maybe some of my hand made books, and of course, the Lovely Lutradur CD. This year, my birthday coincides with one of the days I'm open, so cake will be the order of the day. Actually, cake, or at least a nice biscuit, will be available most days! Meanwhile, I've got a lot of mounts to cut, and Robin has some frames to make.

If you would like to come and visit my studio during Open Studios, the information can be found here. I'm only open weekends, formally, but will happily have visitors during the week by appointment. And why not make a day of it? You can find more information about the other artists taking part here I know I love going round other artists' studios; you learn such a lot from them, and it's great fun!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


...this wee thing. To quote Anne, who did the awarding;

All awards are special and great fun to give. The Renee Award is relatively new and was created by Bella and Ces in honour of their friend Renee, an incredible lady who in the face of a frightening life battle is tackling each new day with great spirit and courage. Please check out the blogs of these three creative women.

Here is what Bella says of the award:"This is a brand new award and I have the pleasure and honor of spreading the seed, watching it grow. I hope it finds its way to those who are like Renee: the acorn, a small package becoming a tall and sturdy oak, giving more acorns, becoming tall and sturdy oaks, giving acorns..."

I thought about the acorns in my life ... and came up with...

Dijanne Cevaal
Sally Bramald

...all of whom I find inspirational in different ways. Yes, I know, it was meant to be eight... but I'm tired... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it !

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Days...

are here again. Not only is it Spring, it's warm enough to work out of doors, just in time for the first workshop in The Little Green Shed. We were working with Lovely Lutradur, and you can see the feverish activity within and outwith the shed. Judging by the laughter quotient, everyone had great fun. And we worked hard; transfer dyeing, learning about using transparency, even a little side trip into using Angelina fibres. Everyone went away with several pieces of lutradur, all ready to stitch into. I did provide chairs, but nobody actually sat in them, and lunch was terminated rapidly when someone said 'But I want to get back into the shed...' in a plaintive voice. Mind you, the bowl with the chocolate in it did go out into the shed with us... no surprises there! What's a workshop without chocolate, after all! If you're interested in a tailor made workshop for four people, I'll be putting up a post on The Other Blog in the next day or so.

Meanwhile, today was the day I finished 'Finding Your Creative Focus'...hurrah! That is, until my editor is done with it; there will doubtless be a revision or two... but that leaves me free to focus on Exquisite Evolon. Hurrah for that too!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pasting Up A Storm...

I'm teaching tonight, a taster workshop at The Gallery Dereham I'm planning to take some of the things I use a lot, like Brusho and lutradur and hand made paper, and demonstrate making Artists Trading Cards. Then the participants get to play with all the stuff I've brought...sounds promising. I thought it might be a good idea to have some samples for the workshops I'll be teaching through May, and as the first of those is paste papers, I mixed up a batch of paste. I learned how to do this from Joanne B Kaar, a Scottish artist; her recipe is in her excellent book 'Paper Making And Bookbinding'. I've used it several times with no problems, but this time, when I was in a hurry and needed things to go well, the paste was far too thin. The thought of adding flour was just not very appealing; and then I thought of the small tin of thickening granules in my kitchen cupboard. Made by MacDougalls, this stuff, whatever it is, is intended for thickening soups and stews, but I'm here to say that it works very nicely on paste for paste papers.

Then, I thought, what to use to colour them? Joanne uses direct dyes, but I don't have any of those. So I thought of Brusho, and added that to the paste as it cooled. As you can see from the images, I got some great colours. And I'm very pleased with the results. So roll on the workshops!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Transfer Dyeing

I promised my friend Anne, affectionately known as 'Hopalong' as she recovers from an accident, that I would write a bit about transfer dyeing. Transfer dyes are so called because of the way you use them; they have to be painted onto paper, first, and then transferred using the heat of an iron or press onto the cloth. They were designed specifically for dyeing polyesters; that said, they will transfer faintly onto pure cotton, and more strongly onto a polyester/cotton cloth, depending on the amount of polyester in the blend. If, however, you really want to use these dyes on cotton, then you can buy a medium from ColourCraft that allows you to get the full benefit of the brightness of these dyes on a pure cotton cloth.

Transfer dyes come in three forms; one is a crayon, made by Crayola, which is quite difficult to get in the UK, as it has fallen foul of European legislation. The second is in paint form, which you paint straight on to the paper. The third is in powder form, which you mix with hot water to create the dyes, with a thickener to use if you wish, to make them more manageable. Make sure you get the correct thickener; there is a thickener made specifically for these dyes, and the kinds you use for Procions just don't work (trust me, I'm a quilter...).

You can use transfer dyes for all kinds of fibre art processes, providing you paint the design onto paper first, and iron the dry colour onto the cloth. If you are using lutradur or evolon, there's not much of a problem with heat; however, if you are using other polyester cloths, they may be more sensitive to the heat levels required for transfer dyeing. So, it's a good idea to make sample pieces with a new cloth, and to work in a very well ventilated area, following any safety precautions the manufacturers might suggest. You can usually get three prints per sheet from a design, though the print will be less distinct each time; I've been using Colourcraft's transfer paints recently, however, and find that I can get four good prints from them, occasionally five (provided I don't dilute them, of course).

Don't, incidentally, be fooled by the colours as they look on paper. They are often very dull and unimpressive. Once ironed onto cloth, though, they sing, magnificently, bright, strong, clear colours. I'm a fan! There are, of course, full directions for using transfer dyes in the Lovely Lutradur book ( you knew I was going to say that, right?), which you can find here. Today's images are all transfer dyed pieces...enjoy. And try them out, if you haven't already, they're fun to work with!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Altering Quilts...

is very straightforward with Lutradur, which is part of the reason I love it so much! I've had this quilt lying around my workshop for some time. I was happy with it, but felt something was missing, somehow. So out came the lutradur, and I dyed several pieces to use with it. The piece I show here is the finished version, with the original version below it.

For those of us who love technical detail, the original quilt is made from painted evolon. The lutradur is the lightweight version, which has been transfer dyed, stitching added around the blue motifs, and fused round the edges. I then cut round the painted motifs to expose the strong blue contrast colour underneath. I think it's a much more interesting piece now than it was, and I'd be interested to hear what you think.

I'm not just altering quilts, though. As I update the images in the Lovely Lutradur book (which will be going to the printer this month), I found that I had accidentally deleted the images for the 'altered quilts' section. I've looked everywhere, to see if I had others, but no... so images like these, showing the different options I considered, will be in the printed edition of Lovely Lutradur. The project itself won't change, of course, as the techniques are still the same. And yes, I'm more than a bit embarrassed to have to confess it all, but I won't get caught like that again!

Monday, April 06, 2009


Well, yes, I know. You followed me through the building of the Little Green Shed, and admired its size (20' by 10'). How many of you prophesied that that Would Not Be Enough? How right you were...sigh. Today, the overspill is unveiled, a large box which you can sit on, filled with things that I don't use very often, like the sculpture materials. All with the express aim of giving me a bit of room to breathe in the Little Green Shed.

It's ironic, really. In the upcoming book, 'Finding Your Creative Focus', I write about how it is possible to have too much 'stuff', as in this excerpt, below:

" Why amass so many materials? In part, I think it's a worry that if you don't buy it when you see it, you may never see it again. In some instances, of course, that is true; cloth manufacturers change their ranges on a regular basis, for example. If you need a particular amount of That Cloth for a particular project, it is essential to buy enough of it for your needs. Most of the time, though, you can be pretty sure that you will be able to find a version of what you believe you need, more or less when you need it, in shops and online stores. There is no shortage of supplies in the general market. And then, there is the magpie effect; buying whatever it is because it is pretty/shiny/attractive/unusual/new. And sometimes, art supplies are a form of consolation; you buy because you feel bad, and think that buying some art supplies will cheer you up. And the clolection of materials grows, and you become more confused about what to do with it all.

In addition, we forget that we can, in fact, make art with very little. Some wonderful art has been made using everyday things like pieces of newspaper and glue (also known as papier mache). I make totem dolls with twigs and scraps of fabric, use vegetables and leaves to print with...the list is endless. So it is at least questionable whether you really need the huge stash of materials that you believe you need. In many ways, it is easier to be creative with a minimal stash. Fewer materials limit some of your options, and force you to be more creative in using them."

So, why have I got so much stuff? I asked myself that, in a loud voice! And then I remembered The List. The List is a selection of all the different bespoke workshops I offer in the LGS. It looks like this:

Altered Art
Artists Trading Cards
Basic Batik
Basic Book Binding
Basic Decorative Hand Stitch
Basic Block Printing
Basic Screen Printing
Collage with papers
Collage with textiles
Colouring Papers
Colouring Cloth
Dyeing using Acid Dyes
Dyeing using Procion Dyes
Dyeing using Transfer Dyes
Felt Making
Finding Inspiration
Introduction to Shibori Techniques
Matchbox Shrines
Mixed Media
Machine Stitching For Line
Machine Stitching For Texture
Paper Making
Printing With Natural Materials
Rust Dyeing
Silk Paper Making

And that isn't all of them! Which is the reason why I have so many materials...or at least, that's my excuse! I do, after all, provide most of the materials for the workshops in the LGS, so I need a wider range of things than those that I currently need at the moment. I have, however, been following my own advice, and going through what I have, taking out the duplicates, getting rid of things that are dried up, broken or out of date, swapping, selling or gifting the excess. I might even sell my Print Gocco...or maybe that's a step too far.

If you are interested in the book, and would like to join the mailing list, please email me; ditto with the workshops. There is more information about the workshops on the artmixteremporium blog; just search on workshops, or coaching.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Collage Mania? Artist Mania, More Like!

Nobody but me spotted the deliberate mistake in my submission to Collage Mania... yes, if you read it carefully, Almost Four is, strictly speaking, not a collage. Oops. What a twit! So I wrote a grovelling note to Karen, who was accepting the donated pieces, and said, well...what do you want to do? She, thankfully, decided to keep the piece (which kept the peace, of course...ouch...). I did, though, offer her another collage, a PROPER collage this time, the one above. Like the other pieces, this is in honor of my lovely friend and fellow quilter, the late Lynn Bunis, and all the fabrics in it came out of her stash. The piece is called 'Like A Little Candle'. I do hope they all sell...

I just got back from our local gallery in Dereham, where I have some mixed media pieces on show; I'm fortunate enough to be one of their featured artists. I've agreed with them that I'll do regular weekly classes on their premises, one during the day, and one in the evenings; watch this space for more information tomorrow! I'm planning to mix and match textile and mixed media techniques, with a bit of painting thrown in. I may even knit... and you know I don't knit...just don't ask me to crochet, as I'm a crochet incompetent!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One Thing...

leads to another; you know how it is... I recently rejoined the Quilters Guild of the United Kingdom which is currently engaged in a project called 'Little Gems'. Quilters are asked to make a journal-sized quilt (or two...or ten...), which will be offered in a tombola at Festival of Quilts this year. Since I'm at FOQ all week, I thought that the least I could do was offer a quilt...and may well make a couple, depending on how my time goes. So... I made a small quilt, and took a photograph of it (the first one you see here). And then I read the instructions, which said I had to finish the edges somehow. So, as the piece is made from lutradur, felt and pelmet vilene, non of which fray, I added a simple line of machine stitching, just to hold the piece together right the way round. That was the idea, anyway.

What actually happened was that the quilt said, you know, that bit over there could do with a bit more stitch... and that bit there... and what's more, don't I look much better the other way round, now that you've done that? I had to agree with all of this, of course...and discovered that I had, all unknowing, created another Flying Dreams quilt. The top image is the finished item, while the image below is the quilt before the additions. I'd love to hear which you prefer (but I'm not taking the stitching out again!!!).

I've just submitted it to the Guild for inclusion on the Little Gems Blog, where you can see the submissions so far, and find the instructions for making one of these wee beauties. You don't have to be a Guild member to take part, just have a desire to support the only dedicated quilt museum in Europe... so how about it?

Monday, March 30, 2009


really aren't my thing. I just got a polite email from Virginia Spiegel, reminding me that the deadline for Collage Mania is...well... Wednesday. That's okay, thought I, I have my pieces done, I just need to photograph them and all will be well with the world. Wrong. For some reason, I made them smaller than the required size, which meant that mounting them was the order of the day. By this time, of course, I was a tad overexcited. As luck would have it, I was given a load of mount board by my gallery, so cutting it to size and mounting the pieces was quite straightforward. And, as you can see, they photographed fairly well, too.

The first piece, Being Blue, is made from hand made paper, with a layer of voile over it, and has pieces added on both above and below the voile, and a machine stitched circle. The two pieces that follow, Grey Moon and Almost Four, are made from Evolon, and will feature in my book, 'Exquisite Evolon', when it appears in the summer; Grey Moon is embellished with pieces of silk, while Almost Four is an original print. Finally, Dizzy is collaged cloth, with some beads attached. All four pieces have been included in honour of my much loved friend, Lynn Bunis, of whom I have written before. She lost her fight with cancer last year, so it seems only fitting that two of the pieces I'm submitting feature cloth from her stash, as she was an American living in Scotland, and Collage Mania is a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society.

If you haven't come across Collage Mania before, check it out! The list of participants is here
This is a great opportunity to purchase some wonderful art from some very well known artists, at affordable prices, and in a very good cause. Run, don't walk!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


has caught up with me. I find myself clearing out the studio, rearranging things, combining things, and thinking about what to put in the new external storage I'm about to buy (probably the paper making and dyeing stuff). The house got a perfunctory hoover round, the dishwasher went on and I'm cooking various bits and pieces. Brought several finished paintings into the house (of which more in the week...); they have to be added to my list of work, and taken upstairs to be stored.

The image today is of a mixed media piece I finished last week, but had to wait for the paint to dry. It's a small mixed media on studio canvas, 12" by 10". As with most of my work, there's lots of texture, partly from the paint itself, and partly from the paper that was added to the canvas beforehand, some pieces of an old paper dressmaking pattern. You can see the textures quite clearly in the close up; try clicking on the image to enlarge it. I think the piece has a light, airy feel to it, just right for spring.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


To my surprise, I find myself playing with paint. I haven't painted in a while, or rather, not with oils, but I felt it was right to do so a few days ago, and only stopped because I ran out of white... I'm finally working in the palette that I found in France two years ago, whites, creams, pale colours. I took photographs of a damaged wall that fascinated me, the original inspiration for the cracks and scars series that I'm working in, and those were the colours in the photograph. The first of the images here shows a manipulated version of one of those photographs (I must have taken about twenty...); the other is a currently untitled collage using some of the colours in that palette. There are some larger works, that are still in progress (this one is a small square studio canvas, roughly 10" square).

Looking at them both, it might be difficult to see a connection, but for me, it is there. I don't know that I can explain it well... but it has meaning for me in this context, as well as in a broader sense. The paper is clearly torn from a magazine and reused; there is something about consuming consumables...or reconsuming consumables, that is important, but I'm not sure what it is, exactly. Doubtless, if I make more in this vein, I'll begin to understand it better. And you will have your own ideas on what this piece is 'about', and they will be just as valid as mine. That's the joy of art; there really is no limit, no right and no wrong. Just the piece, and the person, interacting.