Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What a beautiful day . . .

It is going to be a STUNNING day today! The weather is looking Fab and I have a whole day to get all my orders out then I can start to play with the samples I need to make for my new DVD with Colouricious. Oh the joy of being at home - I must make the most of it. I am hoping to do a little sketching later, it is very rare for me to take the time to sit and draw but I seem to surrounded by beautiful flowers at the moment and they are crying out to be looked at, adored and committed to paper. Sometimes photographs just won't do - you really need to LOOK at the shapes and forms . . . . 

My sister bought me this huge bunch of lilies before I left for Exeter and they are now fully out and look and smell divine, they scent the entire house ( I have a very small house). The only thing I have watch is the pollen, it can be a nightmare as it is a dye, I have tried cutting it off but you lose the lovely contrast of the dark and the light. Nature really does know best.

My lovely friend Mary Day gave me this orchid 2 years ago and it was stunning, then it died and was just leaves in a pot and I couldn't resurrect it. I then read you could try using tomato food to get them to flower - I tried it - and Lo and Behold - it flowered, and how!!!! It is remarkable, it has been flowering for the past 2 months and shows no sign of dying off just yet. I can't tell you the pleasure it gives me everyday. Exquisite shapes - just waiting for me to draw them . . . . . . 

Wherever you are today, whatever you are doing - just take a moment to appreciate something wonderful, however small or seemingly insignificant.

In other words - Wake Up and Smell the Roses!!!!


Monday, 26 September 2011

Creative Stitches - Westpoint, Exeter, 22nd - 25th September

 My stand when it was looking tidy

Creative Stitches at Westpoint was brilliant. The Thursday and Friday were like being at the NEC in Birmingham and Saturday and Sunday were just BUSY. 
I met some great people, everyone was really friendly and interested. I think everyone had a splendid show. I was in good company there.

Jill Kennedy
Mixed Media Textiles

Nina Corey
Rag Rugs

 Jan Tillett
Breautiful stitched bags

Anne Griffiths
Contemporary Textile Art

Jane E Hall
Fine Art Embroidery

Jamie Malden
Colouricious - an amazing array of wooden printing blocks

 . . . and last but most certainly not least - 

my lovely friend Brenda Killigrew of Inkberrow Dsigbn Centre
who is also the owner of Castanea Craft Courses

Craft Courses in Spain

It was a great show and wonderful to catch up with so many friends. Back to the real world now - I need to pack everything away and start to get ready for teaching next week at Bobby Britnell's studio in Shropshire.  I'm teaching brand new workshop that is newspaper based - its going to be FAB!!!

But before that I need to make all the samples for a new DVD I will be recording on the 13th October with Jamie Malden at Colouricious - I am nervous and excited at the same time . . . 

It's going to be a busy week . . . 


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Hard to resist . . . !

So much for a posting a sensible missive this morning - too tired and running late. Here is a sample of a texture and colour scheme I am very fond of taken at dinner last night in a fantastic pub in Sidmouth . . . . . Last day of the show today then home tomorrow 
If I'm not too tired I'm hoping to drive up to Avebury to look at those amazing stones on the way home. It is not often I am over this way so need to make the most of it.

I WILL do a proper post on Tuesday!


Friday, 23 September 2011

Creative Stitches - Westpoint, Exeter - 22nd - 25th September

they must be healthy - they have nuts and seeds on. . . . .

I am at Westpoint in Exeter demonstrating my techniques at the Creative Stitches Show.  The last 2 days have been the busiest I have ever known for a show out side the NEC. The foot fall yesterday was up 20%!!!!! I haven't had a chance to get off my stand apart from dashing out to deliver my daily lecture and then dashing back to the stand - we are absolutely exhausted and there a 2 more days to go. 

I will make a point of going in early tomorrow to take some photos of the show but here are 2 you might enjoy.. I have to pass the handmade chocolate stand on the way back to my stand - it would be rude not buy some of their delights as I pass by - Sorry Lee!!!

Champagne and Baileys truffles - OMG - DIVINE!

I will do a sensible blog tomorrow . . . . . .


Hello Ooana!!!


Hi Carol - is this big enough? x x

Monday, 19 September 2011

. . even MORE newspaper!

 The 'crashed' newspaper, Bondaweb and Solufleece

What! not MORE newspaper - Yep!!! I'm afraid so . . . .

I have had a chance to catch up with some work and try some samples I have been wanting to play with. Today's task was to try 'crashing' newspaper with Solufleece. I do it all time with fabrics.
(For step by step photos and full instructions go to the Solufleece page on

To crash fabric or newspaper you need to layer from the bottom up - 
1 layer of Solufleece, 
2 layers of Bondaweb off the baking paper
your top fabric/newspaper

Layer everything up and stitch 'tram lines' about the width of the foot of your sewing machine apart through all 4 layers. You can experiment with different widths and maybe trying wavy lines once you have done your first sample.

Being VERY careful not to burn yourself in your excitement - Steam your sample until it shrinks up or 'crashes'. This can be done with a steam iron but do NOT touch the sample with the iron, just hover it over your work.

I love this - it is the continuing story of my love affair with newspaper - poor sad old girl . . . !
Solufleece is a fantastic product - it is also an excellent water soluble machine embroidery stabiliser.

I'm off to print on some newspaper faux chenille now - ready for my workshop at Bobby Britnell's beautiful workshop in Shropshire  
Yeehaa!!!  We are going to have SUCH fun . . . . 


Once I have done my print samples I must start getting ready for the Exeter show, I leave on Wednesday morning and at the moment I don't have a car - aaRRGHH!!! My trusty Volvo is having some work done on it and the parts have only just arrived. I am driving around in a loan car lent by my lovely mechanic - a red Nissan Micra!!! it just about moves with me in it. I am praying my car will be ready in time - they never break down at a convenient time do they???
It is a wonderful car though - a true work horse. More later . . . 


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

. . . Even more newspaper faux chenille . . . !

Newspaper faux chenille book by Jen Henley

My happiness is now complete - someone has sent some of their own work to me to show you - well done Jen!!! Wonderful though all my samples are, it is much more interesting to see what other people do with these techniques.

This is the email Jen sent - 

Love your Facebook page. Re your post about faux chenille, I have attached some photos inspired by you. Love your new book and the faux chenille with newspaper really appealed.
I had a stash of newspaper used for ironing off soya from fabric.  It had been painted with Koh-i-Noor (using a wide brush and the whole palette, lovely mucky colour). Followed your instructions and machined the newspaper onto a base of painted Vilene Spunbond/Lutradur that I had lying around. Was ecstatic with the finished piece and turned it into a book cover, using faggoting stitch to join the edges of the spine with a natural linen thread. Decided that the book needed home made paper so made a batch of coloured paper to tone with the cover...then added to each page strips of some paper I made a few years ago. Stitched the signature to the spine using a three hole pamphlet stitch.
If you like what you see then feel free to post it on  blog/Facebook/website.

This is what I was hoping this blog would be about - you sharing your samples and ideas.

I think you will agree that the book is stunning and very beautifully finished.


I have just received word that my workshops for the Fiber Festival Alaska in March are filling up fast so I had better get on with my American visa and start checking out flights. Wow!! Alaska - amazing, I'm very excited. It is going to be horribly tight time wise with the Fashion and Embroidery Show and my Australia/New Zealand trip - but a girls got to do what a girls go to do . . .


Monday, 12 September 2011

Another - A New Starting Point - Moor Hall - October 6th and 7th

 old painted and dyed newspaper layered with polyester organza

Well who would have thought that old newspapers would cause such a stir??? I have had several emails and a couple of comments about yesterdays blog. All asking for more images of the faux chenille - so here you are my lovelies.

Faux chenille is a technique I taught on Experimental Textiles. Experimental Textiles was a four year course that I wrote and taught for 10 years and stopped teaching a couple of years ago. I will be teaching a shortened version starting next May in Redditch, for more details go to -

There are many tutorials on the Internet and more usually using natural fabric, but basically you layer at least 6 layers of Fabric/Newspaper, stitch tramlines or channels down the entire piece and then cut through the top 5 layers making sure you DON'T cut through the bottom layer. Easier said than done with newspaper. I back mine with dyed craft/pelmet Vilene. You can then distress your piece with a nail brush or something similar. If using fabric you pop it into the washing machine and it 'blooms up' like old candlewick bedspreads . . .  if any of you are old enough to remember them!!!!

I like the contrast of shiny synthetic polyester organza and the matt newspaper, if you are not going to wash your faux chenille you can try anything. I am totally hooked on using old newspapers now, I have stacks and stacks that I have been drying, using and saving and using, drying and saving. Because I use the same newspapers over and over again to protect my table table when I am dying and painting I get the most wonderful build up of colour. FABULOUS!!!
Try using old catalogues, magazines . . . . whatever you have to hand.

We will be experimenting with stitching and printing into and onto faux chenille at Moor Hall on the 6th and 7th October - we are going to have SUCH fun. you can book by going to Bobby's website - 

Have fun!


Sunday, 11 September 2011

A New Starting Point - Moor Hall - October 6th & 7th - roll up, roll up!!!!

 old painted and dyed newspaper layered with painted Bondaweb to create a firm surface on which to stitch and print 

It is always good to write new courses and stretch yourself (and your students). I have been looking forward to teaching A New Starting Point - a workshop based on using old painted and dyed newspapers as a base for just about anything you fancy but including stitch and print. The surfaces can be layered to create samples firm enough to make into boxes or vessels. This should be a very exciting course which could lead in many directions. 

I will be delivering this 2 day course at Moor Hall, Bobby Britnell's workshop in Newcastle on Clun, Shropshire SY7 8PH, we could do with a few more students - if you know of anyone that might be interested - do forward this blog to them . . . . . 

As well as layering newspaper with painted Bondaweb we will be experimenting with faux chenille using newspaper - another great opportunity for an unusual background on which to stitch by hand or machine . . . . . this is a link to Bobby's website should you be interested.

I will also be giving a lecture on the night of the 6th at Marches Embroiderers Guild so if you fancy a good laugh - do come along!!!


Now back to that list . . . . x

 p.s - if any of you are on Facebook could you use the link on the top left of this page and 'like' my page?

Thank you  x

Friday, 9 September 2011

Marlborough and Disrtict Embroiderers Guild 5th - 7th September Scrumptious Spunbond

Here I am back home again sitting in a sea of mess and carnage . . . .  I MUST tidy up my house!!! I seem to have been teaching and travelling for months - I now have over a week at home - Whhopppeeeee!!! I have a huge amount to catch up with but if I work steadily at the list, I should get to the bottom of it by the time I leave for the Exeter show. One thing I must do is buy a new washing machine - sigh! The joys of domesticity . . .

I was booked to deliver a lecture on Monday afternoon and a one day Scrumptious Spunbond workshop on the Tuesday. There was such a long waiting list for the workshop that we had to arrange an extra workshop for the next day.

I had a rather traumatic start to my trip to Marlborough - no car!!!! Luckily the A.A. man pointed out that I had hire car cover on my policy - why do I always panic and not think clearly???? it was a bit of a rush getting to the car hire place in time on Monday morning to collect the (much smaller car than my Volvo estate) load the much smaller car and get to Marlborough in time to set up for my lecture.

Luckily I had a smooth journey, I decided not to go via the M25 and go via the M27 which was clear for a change. I arrived and was immediately in the safe hands of the very wonderful Stella. What a Superstar she is. I was set up for the lecture in no time and the car was unloaded by many helpful handmaidens . . . . The Marlborough Guild are a joy to work with. Very organised, very helpful and very friendly. I was impressed with their set up. Everyone carried out their allotted tasks with great humour. They obviously have a strong, active and cheerful committee.

The first Scrumptious Spunbond workshop was held in Kennet Valley Hall. A lovely large airy room with beautiful views across fields. We had a great day painting the Spunbond, ironing Bondaweb on the back and then cutting shapes with a soldering iron and ironing them onto more Spunbond

 Some of the great samples that were created on the first workshop using the pre-dyed Vilene Spunbond CS500.

I don't know the name or even where the hall was that we used for the next day, it was out in the country and I followed Ann who had looked after me the night before. Ann and her family were great hosts and her sons were particularly helpful as I was trying to set up Facebook pages while I was there. We had an hysterical evening with me trying desperately to find some 'friends'. I will remember that evening every time a new 'freind' accepts me on Facebook. We had SUCH a fun evening.
the painted Vilene Spunbond drying on the line ready to use in the afternoon

a smaller hall for the second workshop but very well equipped, well done the wonderful Stella for being able to book it at short notice

One of the exercises was to learn how to create 'zapped' edges on the Spunbond with a heat gun.
Pre-dyed Vilene Spunbond was used to achieve this lovely 'frothy' effect.

another was to decorate painted Bondaweb ironed onto the Spunbond and then zap with a heat gun

more shapes cut with a soldering iron and bonded onto a background of heavier weight Spunbond

While we were waiting for the Spunbond to dry I gave the students some of my pre-dyed Vilene Spunbond CS500 to play with. It is great for overlaying and bonding giving a beautiful translucent effect. Packs of all 7 colours are available from

It was very tempting to ring a certain gentleman on my way home through the Portsmouth area for a chat and a catch up, but wasn't sure of the reception I would get - so didn't . . . .  x

I am now home preparing for the Exeter show /  and working through THAT list . . . . . .  


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Hot Textiles - drawing inspiration from the garden. West Dean College August 29th - September 2nd

6 of the 7 lovely ladies on my course last week enjoying the sunshine on the terrace at West Dean

As the title of the course suggests I wanted to incorporate design exercises into this 4 day workshop which may then lead onto more considered samples as we worked through the 'Hot Textiles' processes. Here a few of the exercises the students worked through on the first day.


We then worked through most of the 'Hot Textiles' techniques, half the group had never painted Bondaweb so we started with that. This lovely sample was decorated with the background paper from the Bondaweb.

These 2 samples were created with Vilene Spunbond and pelmet/craft Vilene with Bondaweb on the back, cut with a soldering iron and ironed onto more pelmet/craft Vilene.

  75 gm Tyvek layered with polyester organza,machine stitched together and then zapped with a heat gun.


Layers of polyester organza machine stitched together and then zapped with a heat gun

These wonderful Tyvek corsages stole the show we had at the end of the week - absolutely stunning!

One of the corsages held against Frances's almost matching colourful dress.

We had a fabulous week, with plenty of laughs as well as a lot of hard work. West Dean College is a remarkable place to teach. The grounds are so beautiful at any time of year, the staff are great, the food is FAB. It is really is a great experience. 


I will be giving a lecture at Kennett Valley Hall, Lockeridge, Marlborough at 2pm on Monday for Marlborough and District Embroiderers Guild. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will be delivering workshops on 'Scrumptious Spunbond'. 

Then I will be home until the Creative Stitches show at Exeter 22nd - 25th September. I am looking forward to being at home for a while, have a go at my jungle of my garden and try to get some semblance of order in my poor house. It looks as though it's been ransacked.  . . . . . .