Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Twinkle!

We will all, no doubt, succumb to the call of chocolate and other delicious naughtiness over the next few days. My favourite treats at the moment are Magnums minis, I can hear them calling me from the back of the supermarket as soon as I walk through the doors. In all my years of researching packaging for heat distressing the wrapping on these ice creams is the best so far. I just love the golden and brown tones that all merge together. If you buy mini ice creams you don't feel SO bad. The boxes are wrapped in a large sheet of gorgeous brown wrapping and then each ice cream is individually wrapped in more beautiful wrapping. Fantastic!

I am sure that most of you reading this will already be aware of these delights but just in case they have passed you by, I thought it my duty to share this with you.

Most food packaging can be textured with an iron just as you would Tyvek (see page 70, Hot Textiles). Place your packaging in between two sheets of baking parchment and iron LIGHTLY in a slow circular movement. You are stroking with the iron, not pressing.

Try cutting the packaging into strips and layer up different tones of gold and brown together. If you are lucky some of the strips will stick to each other. The great thing about this type of packaging is that is stays soft after it has been distressed so you can stitch into it by hand or machine. Nothing much happens with a heat gun so stick to using the iron.

Try thick strips, thin strips, adding Tyvek, other packaging, cellophane . . . . . 
All this can be stitched onto a background of dyed craft Vilene or background of your choice.
You could also iron strips onto painted Bondaweb but you would sacrifice some of the texture of the packaging. Just have fun with it and see what happens.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas wherever you are and a very Happy, Peaceful and Creative New Year.

p.s Hello Jill and Sandy - 6 months to go! x

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Speaking of Ginger Beer . . . !

I am having a weekend off and even though it has snowed we managed to get out for a walk. We stopped for a coffee in a lovely sunny cafe and while we were reading the menu my eye was drawn to the ginger beer float. I haven't had an icecream float for years  . . . . when was the last time you had one?
I hope you are all coping with the run up to Christmas and that the snow isn't causing too many problems for you all.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Hurrah! and lashings of ginger beer!
I've finished the book. The first draft has gone winging its way to my editor. Oh the relief!!!!

 The book is about layering textiles and here are three of the images that have inspired me in the past months. I am hoping the book will be published ready for The Festival of Quilts next August, but it will be a tight schedule, so fingers crossed.

I have had to remove the heat gun from the website as it has been discontinued, I am hoping to find a replacement at the trade show in February. I will let you all know when I have found one. A 300 watt versions will work - but they take time, and if you are like me with the attention span of a goldfish, you want your heat gun to work fast!

I can now get on with putting my house back together after our best ever Open House. I am looking forward to a weekend off  . . . . . and away . . . . Ho! Ho! Ho!!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Nearly there!

It's 6am and dark outside. The words are flowing now and I have already eaten TWO  pain au chocolat. I am SO naughty. I seem to need lots of treats to keep me going, why is it only bad carbs will do when you are under pressure? I can be slim and gorgeous next week Ha Ha!! once the book has been delivered.

So - this blog is supposed to be about promoting Hot Textiles - not books and snow. 

The sample above shows dyed lightweight pelmet vilene (green) and Spunbond CS700 (brown) cut with a fine tip soldering iron and bonded onto Spunbond CS800 (blue). If you want to iron on your intricate cut outs, make sure you iron Bondaweb on the back of your products before you cut them. You can leave the backing paper on or take it off when you solder, it's a personal choice.
Don't forget your baking parchment on top and underneath and of course, you need to be soldering onto a ceramic tile or similar.

Right back to writing - keep calm and carry on . . . . .

No Richard, I haven't got to the index yet! x

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

pain au chocolat and coffee . . . .

do you dunk yours?
The snow was washed away on Friday night by very heavy rain, it was a miracle. We went to bed with thick snow on the ground and woke up on Saturday morning to virtually no snow at all. We now have freezing fog, which is very beautiful in the garden decorating all the different textures with white lace - but deadly on the roads.

The change in the weather was very timely for a busy Open House weekend. I was particularly pleased this weekend as I sold a large piece of work of my own for a change. It always does my confidence a power of good to sell something - it also helps my groaning bank balance!

 . . of land, sea and sky

'. . . of land, sea and sky' was created on two 'L' shaped canvases by layering hand dyed silk tops onto similarly dyed heavy pelmet Vilene plus and 'knocked back' with toning painted Bondaweb. The whole piece was then painted with acrylic wax to seal the surface. The piece can be hung as one solid work or slightly separated. I shall miss this work but I will feel more inspired to develop some new ideas now.

 . . . . or I will be when I have finished my book, I am nearly there but I am having to get up earlier every day to try to meet the deadline. I am so easily distracted plus has been busy this week.

I am listening to the radio travel and weather news as I write this blog and I hope those of you reading this in Scotland who are suffering such awful weather are safe and warm.

take care and keep in touch

Thursday, 2 December 2010

. . . . be careful what you wish for . . . . . !

. . . . . . well that will teach me to say I have never been anywhere cold before! It's minus five today but feels like minus 10. Now I know what I will be wearing in Alaska. We had another 10" of snow last night. I am well and truly trapped now. This is the view from my window.

I have always loved living on top of a hill at the end of a very large cul de sac, it is very quiet with wonderful views, now I am not so sure. 
Hey ho!!! I have enough food for three more days and it SHOULD clear up a bit by then - I hope. My local shop is a mile away which I could walk to if ABSOLUTELY necessary, but I don't want to fall over. Two of my friends have fallen over and broken their wrists. I had an email from one of my customers in Scotland telling me they had been in Arctic conditions for the past 9 days. 

The most important thing is that we all look after each other. Keep warm and if you are bored, keep in touch . . . . I'm only writing a book . . . . . disturb me anytime  . . . . . x

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Wow it's chilly! The snow has arrived in Brighton and I am trapped in my house so the chains weren't necessary after all. I am happily typing away grooving to the new Caro Emerald album - 'Scenes from a cutting room floor'. It is FAB! The book is coming along well and I HOPE to be ready for the December 10th deadline.

That's enough prevarication - back to the book. I've fed the birds, cleared the ice from the bird baths, done the washing up and written and sent the monthly newsletter so there is no excuse.  

We have two more week ends to go of my Open House - I do hope the snow clears a bit so everyone can get to my house.

I hope you are all keeping snug and warm.

Hello to all of you enjoying warmer temperatures around the world - think of us shivering in our boots!!!!!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Looking ahead . . .

Anyone who is self employed, particularly in my line of work knows we have to book our work quite far ahead. Whilst it can seem you are wishing your life away, it can also be good to have something exciting to look forward to. I have just signed the contracts for Fibrearts Ballarat Australia and the Creative Fibre Festival in Blenheim New Zealand in April/May 2012. I have also had confirmation for the Fibre Festival in Anchorage, Alaska for March 2012.

 my gorgeous girls at Fibrearts Ballarat April 2010
I am SO excited about going back to teach at Ballarat - watch out Donnie and Ruth - Yeehhaa!!!! This time I will be concentrating on 3D structures using all the Hot Textiles techniques. It should be great fun and by then we should have some new products to play with. What will make my happiness complete is that Mary Hettmansperger will also be teaching that week. We met this year when we taught together at Ballarat and Orange. She is FANTASTIC, it will be wonderful to see her again. Glenys Mann and her 'Golden Staph' will no doubt make sure we have the very best time. I made so many good friends in Australia in April, I hope I will be able see them all again in 2012.

 a display of some of the work we created April 2010
Melbourne is one place I want to explore further when I go back. It was such a whirlwind tour when I visited in April, I want spend at least a week exploring.

The Melbourne skyline taken from a ferry on the river Yarra

 Treasury Gardens Melbourne

Teaching in New Zealand will be a new adventure for me. I was quite surprised to be asked to teach at the Fibre Festival in Blenheim as it seems to be felt/wool based and as you know - I teach heat based techniques on mostly synthetic fabrics. Having gone through the 'do you know who I am'? conversation, I discovered the organisers did indeed know who I was was and wanted me to spread the gospel according to Hot Textiles which I am obviously very happy to do. So - more exploring . . . . . . . I believe they have glaciers in New Zealand, it's all going to be very exciting.

Speaking of glaciers, this cold snap of weather had made think about the clothes I will need to take to Anchorage. I know its 14 months early to think about what I am going pack but I have never been anywhere really cold before. I believe the average temperatures in March range from -10 degrees to 2 degrees. So it will be a bit chilly! I am hoping to see Orca whales, bears, moose, glaciers, mountains and maybe some students. I will be teaching at another Fibre Festival which is wool based and Yes! they do know who I am. So the beginning of 2012 is going to be very exciting.

stained glass fish by Jose Heasman hanging in my bathroom

Coming back to reality, our first open weekend (one2six) went very well. We have three more week ends to go and if the first is anything to go by we are going to be very busy. I'm off to buy some mulled wine spices and make a cake. I'm also considering buying some chains to chain my self to my computer next week as the December 10th deadline for the book is now looming large.

I hope you are all keeping warm.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Design and Technology Show

my stand looking quite tidy from the front . . . .

I have just unloaded my poor car after the The Design and Technology show. I don't think it has ever been SO packed to the gunnels. It is a 13 year old Volvo V70 and still going very strong - thank goodness.
The show was great fun. My role was to inspire, help and listen to teachers who need help to create new courses that include textiles, whether they teach art, textiles or D and T. A lot of schools and colleges are developing new, more creative courses and need help with the new products and materials that are now available. 
My main tasks were to demonstrate how to use a heat press for transfer printing and a die cutting machine to cut out textile shapes along with all my usual heat distressing techniques.

on closer inspection - not quite so tidy

behind the scenes - definitely not tidy!

showing how to use a die cutting machine (Prestige Pro) to cut textiles

You may have seen die cutting machines such as the Sissix Big Shot at craft shows or you may indeed own one. They are generally used to cut card and paper and are very popular for card making and scrap booking, however they can be used to cut out shapes in fabric. This is particularly useful for applique and patchwork and quilting, I believe Ellison/Sissix will be bringing over new dies especially for quilters early next year.

I also had access to a laser cutter while I was at the show and had the chance to cut a few more designs. The images below show polyester satin that has been transfer printed on the heat press with flower wrap. The decorated satin then had Bondaweb ironed on the back. As the Bondaweb has a backing paper it makes a fine fabric easier to handle and cut on a laser cutter.
Once the design has been cut you just have to remove the backing paper and iron your design onto your desired background. It really couldn't be easier.

transfer printed satin with Bondaweb ironed on the  back and laser cut then ironed on to black cotton

the 'positive' shape removed from the laser cut design above and ironed onto black cotton

laser cut lamp 

This lamp was created by space dying two rectangles of heavy pelmet Vilene plus and then ironing on toning space dyed silk tops. One piece was then laser cut with a fish design to create the front of the lamp. The pieces were then machine stitched up the sides. A wooden base was carved by a friend of mine to finish the lamp off.

more laser cut samples

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the teachers at the show, we all learn from each other. My very good friend Brenda Killigrew from Inkberrow Design Centre  helped me on the stand. We were gathering email addresses from teachers who were interested in the new residential courses for teachers Brenda and I will be running from the end of next year. The courses will be Hot Textiles based but aimed at the specialist needs of teachers.
I've just got to write the courses now . . . . .  we weren't sure if anyone would be interested but we were overwhelmed. I will be contacting everyone that left their contact details next week. 
If you are a teacher and wish to be included in the mail out - just email me.

I am listening to Seals new C.D while I write this - oh! it's gorgeous.

My Open House 'opened' on Saturday and, thanks to Jose and the girls everything went smoothly without me. We had a busy first weekend and look forward to three more. 
I must make some Christmas stockings this week . . . . . and some more cards . . . . . ooohH!!!! and write a book.


x x x

Monday, 15 November 2010

My last Open House - for a while . . .

print by Cath Bristow 

Some of you may know I open my house twice a year as part of the Brighton Open Houses in May and November/December. It has been great fun turning my house in to a temporary gallery and a great chance to catch up with friends and ex students because I can be guaranteed to be 'at home'. However, my life seems to galloping along even faster than ever and something has to give - so I have decided to have a break from the Open Houses for a while. 

 Textile Garden by Sylvia Lynton

 For our last exhibition we will have wonderful mix of talent as you will see from theses images, more can be found on our website one2six which should be updated by the end of this week - I haven't been able to get the updates ready for the ever patient and very wonderful Jayne to put onto the website, there is just too much going on. We are open for 4 weekends, November 20, 21 - 27, 28 and December 4,5 - 11, 12  from 10am to 6pm.

 Raku ceramics by Ember Vincent

 As well as what you can see here there will be beautiful knitted hats, gloves, scarves, slippers and tiny teddies - loads of beautiful corsages, stunning nuno felted scarves, beautiful boxes and turned wood, greetings cards  . . . . . .  and if I ever get organised - some crazy Christmas stockings.

 Jewellery by Cicada

There are directions of how to find us on the website one2six. Do come and discover the delights of our Open House, you are sure of a warm welcome with plenty of cake, cheese scones and mince pies to keep your energy levels up as you wander around my rather strange 'upside down' house.

Glass by Jose Heasman

felt by Jayne Routely

  I am leaving on Wednesday to torture teachers at the Design and Technology Show at the NEC Birmingham. This show is only for educational professionals so any textile, art or D and T teachers reading this - this show is for you. I will have a big stand with a heat transfer press and die cutting equipment to show teachers how they might like use some of the more extreme textile techniques in their teaching. I am hoping I might have time to run up a few Christmas stockings while I am there. 

Whilst I am very lucky to be living the varied life that I do, there are always times when big events come along together and it is a NIGHTMARE trying to be in two places at once and trying to get everything done on time. Can you hear the rising panic in my voice? I am so lucky to have some very good friends and colleagues. I know there are many of you out there who know what I mean, we never think we will quite make it - but we always do - JUST!!!

Welcome to my new followers - it's good to know someone is reading this  . . . . . . I enjoy reading your comments and answering emails - so whether you are one of my followers, or not - don't be afraid to get in touch by email or by leaving a comment. I know I am busy but I do love this blogging malarky and do try to make time for it. 
Keep in touch, x

Monday, 8 November 2010

2 workshops at Craftynotions - November 5th & 6th

happy students in Sarah's VERY well equipped studio

I was delighted when Sarah Lawrence of Craftynotions invited me to teach 2 one day workshops at Craftynotions base camp in Newark, Nottingham. The first workshop was based on Vilene Spunbond and the second on Tyvek. The students were - Mary Kerr, Sheila Buchan, Jackie Litchfield, Cheryl Herod, Carol Devany, Janice Rose, Judith Gill, Margaret Williams, Linda Sottle, Anne Marsen, Jean Baker, Elaine Winterton and Brenda Wilkinson. Two of the ladies did both workshops and one of them came all the way from Edinburgh.
layers of Spunbond and polyester organza stitched together then zapped back with a heat gun

The first day was devoted to colouring and distressing Spunbond. Sarah has developed a new range of absolutely fabulous paints and sprays that work particulalrly well on all Spunbonds and Tyvek. I have waited a long time to find the perfect paints, but I think I have found them. As some of you will know - when painting products like Bondaweb, Tyvek and Spunbond you need to make sure the paint is not applied too thickly or it will form a barrier and you wont be able to use heat effectively on your products. The new Colourful Thoughts paints are brilliant (literally) for printing and can be watered down to colour products you wish to distress with heat, They are water soluble and will not give off fumes when you heat them - and the colour range - Wow! They are even washable when heat fixed on fabric. What more could you ask?

strips of painted and zapped Spunbond

Well - you could ask for a fantastic range of sprays and low and behold - we have Creative Colour Sprays. These are a new range of sprays that come in various guises including mica sprays that are SO iridescent. As you can probably tell I am hooked on these colouring systems. It is such a relief to find something reliable at last.

Spunbond layered with polyester organza, stitched together and zapped back with a heat gun

On the second workshop we coloured and distressed Tyvek in 2 different weights. The heavyweight comes in A4 sheets that can be run through an INKjet printer, the fabric weight is sold by the metre and is 150cm wide.

Layers of fabric weight Tyvek stitched together and zapped back with a heat gun decorated with 2 'corsages' made from heavy weight Tyvek

 Heavy weight Tyvek layered with polyester organza stitched together than zapped back with a heat gun

By layering and zapping heavy weight Tyvek you can create quite firm surfaces that can be manipulated into structures and vessels.

we also made bowls

I couldn't resist taking a shot of this wonderful pile of samples before they were swished into the students bag at the end of the day

We all had a great time were very well looked after on both workshops with a regular supply of coffees, teas and biscuits. Everyone at Craftynotions is friendly and helpful and I cant wait to go back to torture more students and play with more of Sarah's wonderful products. I will be talking to Sarah later this week to try and fit in more workshops so watch this space.

Just when you think everything is sorted - the heat gun that I stock has been discontinued - if anyone knows of any other 350 watt heat guns could you let me know? A heat gun is the one product I can't do without on the website.

November is a very busy time for me with my Open House starting the same weekend as the Design and Technology Show (only for education professionals) So I am trying to clear my house ready to exhibit 13 artists while making samples for all the teachers. Funnily enough I seem to be making more mess than I am clearing up!  . . . . . and I still have a book to write . . . AARRGHH!!!!

Yes! Jill - it is very busy time and my 'social life' is going to suffer - hopefully he will wait! x

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Hot Textiles at Denman College October 25th - 27th

 The Textile Studio at Denman

I love teaching at Denman College - the home of the W.I.  The teaching studios are well equipped, the food is great and I always have fab students in my group. The workshop ran from the 25th - 27th and a good time was had by all. The word had got round that I like to do stretching exercises to music with my students after lunch every day to help every one stay awake and feel refreshed. I was going to leave this as after all; I was teaching at the W.I. but no, my ladies were expecting it to be part of the course. Oh we did have a laugh! The students were - Jane Bothwell, Helen Dickinson, Sheilah Edgson, Jean Harnaman, Carole Jethwa, Jeanette Lamb, Patricia Richards, Margaret Sargeant, Pauline Walker and Jill Wilson.

 The workshop was fast paced to cover all the products everyone wanted to try. The students painted and dyed Tyvek, Bondaweb, Vilene Spunbond and various weights of sew-in and iron-on interfacings. These were then layered up and zapped back. Sections of the work were further distressed and removed with soldering irons. Here is a selection of the work.

painted Bondaweb, foiled Hot Spots! with sequins, dried leaves and threads as decoration

using transfer paper to decorate pre-dyed pelmet Vilene

Layers of pre-dyed Spunbond stitched together, zapped with a heat gun

As the course was residential I had a couple of non-teaching hours to get some of my own work done. I spent the time dyeing offcuts of Heavy Pelmet Vilene Plus. These were long sections that were left over from cutting out the Little Boxes packs (see Thursday 30th September post). I had rolled up the waste to throw away but having seen the gorgeous shapes it made I decided to dye it all and see what happened. I think I will now make some kind of sculpture - watch this space!

 I am off to teach at Craftynotions in Newark, Nottinghamshire on Friday and Saturday. It is nightmare entering the warehouse/shop.There is so much to see you want to run around touching and looking at everything. I enjoy working with Sarah and her team and look forward to a very good time indeed. I will report on my exploits next week . . . . .  x

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Teaching at Inkberrow Design Centre - Learning Through Play

Some of you may be familiar with the work of Brenda Killigrew and her students at Inkberrow Design Centre in Holberrow Green, Redditch, Worcestershire. The courses run both privately and by the college are textile based - Fashion Illustration, Millinery, Theatre, Corsetry, Tailoring, Textiles and Interior Design and Soft Furnishings. Brenda puts on the amazing fashion shows at ICHF shows. If you have been to Sewing for Pleasure/Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch you can't help but be aware of the sensation they cause.
In these increasingly troubled times in further education we all need to be grateful to people like Brenda who have the energy, foresight and downright dogged determination to carry on delivering top level courses. It is a thankless task sometimes and we seem to be heading for some dark days ahead!!!!
Great samples from just playing with the products to see what they could do

So - less of the doom and gloom and on with the fun and joy of teaching and torturing students.
I taught at Inkberrow on Monday and Tuesday this week and wasn't sure what to expect as I was teaching mixed groups of students. The plan was to introduce the students to the creative possibilities of the heavy and medium iron on interfacings that had been supplied by Freudenberg Vilene. As most of you will know from reading this blog I LOVE the medium and heavy iron on interfacings. They are so useful for surface decoration and construction. The students will be presenting a collection of work using the interfacings at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC 24 - 27 March 2011 as part of the fashion show.

a bridge over the Yarra river
  Sydney Opera House in the evening sun - was I really ever there?

I was working with 2nd year students from the HND Fashion and Design course and City and Guilds Fashion and Design. The students were very capable and quickly got to grips with what I wanted them to do. We discussed how to cut, colour and manipulate these fabulous products and I presented a slide show of what I thought were dynamic and exciting buildings to demonstrate my ideas for shape, form and line that might help develop strong and simple shapes for their eventual projects. When I was in Melbourne in April I took a lot of photos of the buildings and bridges along the river Yarra. I also included shots of Sydney Opera House. We went onto discuss how the students could develop the samples and how they could be used on the body - ruffs, huge collars, shoulder treatments, bustles . . . . . and of course amazing hats!

these were the best behaved students I have EVER had when using the soldering irons to carve and cut, I was SO impressed

The emphasis for the 2 days was 'Learning Through Play'. It is important to find out what a product will do and how to manipulate it before you start to design a finished piece of work.
Here are some of the samples the students were starting to develop.

I will be going back to Inkberrow on the 6th December for a follow-up session so will report on how things are going.

I am now starting to think about teaching a 3 day Hot Textiles workshop at Denman College Sunday - Wednesday. I teach there 2 or 3 times a year and my courses are always fully booked with waiting lists. Who would have thought I would be teaching for the W.I.? I always have a great time there and eat far too much of their excellent food. I'm looking forward to seeing the garden and how it looks going into autumn.

Have fun and keep in touch, it's always good to hear what you are all up to . . . .  x