Thursday, 31 May 2012

Some good news and some sad news!

  Various weights of Vilene Spunbond zapped with a heat gun and cut with a soldering iron to create fabulous edges. Foils were added to some of the edges.

First the good news - There are five spaces on my workshop
 'Hot new jewelled surfaces for stitch'.
New, soft fairy like and jewelled surfaces can be developed by distressing Vilene Spunbond/Lutradur and layering this exciting product with embossing powders and Hot Spots! Using beautiful mica powders and high metallic paints we will create stunning layered surfaces on which to stitch – or not. 

This workshop is on Saturday 16th June at Hurley Village Hall, Hurley, Nr Maidenhead. SL6 5LT to book email Lesley at

It is unusual for one of my workshops for a Guild not to fill within the Guild - I must be losing my touch - so those of you in the Windsor and Maidenhead area who have been saying I don't do enough workshops in your area - now is your chance! I shall also be putting this information in my newsletter over the weekend. If you want to subscribe to my monthly(ish) newsletter go to and fill in your email address in the box down on the left hand side of the home page.

Now for the sad news - My lovely friends Fiona and Karen who own the mail order company Ario have decided that due to family illness they are going to have to close the business down. This information is on their News Page.

Fiona and Karen have taken the regrettable decision to close Ario from Wednesday 27th June 2012. This is due to long-standing and on-going family health issues that were making running our business extremely difficult. We  would like to thank you all for your support over the years and the pleasure we have had from meeting you all at the shows, workshops and events.
We will be having a CLOSING DOWN SALE on-line that starts at 9a.m. on the 6th June 2012 - all items will be half price or less and as the saying goes "When it's gone, it's gone!!!"
If you would like to visit our unit at Garngoch to do some SALES shopping PLEASE phone beforehand to make sure we are there, you can contact Karen on 07877709943 or Fiona on 07854539030.

All our good wishes for the future
Fiona & Karen

It is SUCH a shame - they are fabulous girls. Fiona and I met ten years ago when they first started trading and they did one of their first shows with ICHF at Excel. We got on well from the start. Where have those ten years gone . . ? I hope we will be able to keep in touch. We will all miss them at the shows and their friendly voices on the other end of the phone when you need a product but you are not quite sure which one.


The four day Jubilee weekend is drawing near - I hope the weather stays fair for you if you are involved in any street parties. Whatever you are doing - have a wonderful time.

Monday, 28 May 2012

. . . and more from Art Van Go - part 2

 One of Lana's colourful papers which she then started to cut and collage.

 Art Van Go have a great studio/workshop space at the back of their well equipped shop. They have everything a girl could desire. Having made the printing blocks the students started to print with them on A1 sheets of white cartridge, working out their patterns and repeats. We used acrylic paint to print with. Once the A1 sheets were printed up and dry we colour washed them with a dilution of procion dye powder and water. You can see how beautifully the different coloured dyes bleed and mix together on the page. Once dry the acrylic paint resists the dye.

 Lana started to build up layers by cutting up one sheet to apply or collage onto another sheet.
One of Lana's layered pieces which she later went onto stitch.
Another one of Lana's printed sheets.

This is one of Kate's overprinted sheets, it looks quite 3D if you slightly offset your over print. We all thought this one looked like lizard skin.
Another one of Kate's prints, shiny and wet with dye.

Linda had great fun with her prints. This is red/orange paint on black paper.

 Another one of Linda's sheets drying on newspaper. You can see the blocks she made from her design on the right.

Linda's first ever printing block and first ever print - FABULOUS!

We had a great time together - as there were only five students on the course we had plenty of room to spread out, had fun and got to know each other quite well. I am hoping that at least two of the students will keep in touch - hint - hint!!! 
It is a shame more students didn't enrol, but I know that any course with DESIGN in the title frightens you all off.

My next trip to Art Van Go is at the end of August but is full. I have a mentoring day there on Saturday 1st September if any of you fancy bringing some work to discuss and work on in the afternoon. I will be there in December and hope to be writing the course this week.
 Watch this space!


I have a heavy week coming up with my sisters birthday on Wednesday and my Dads 80th birthday party on Friday. We have lots of relatives arriving from all over so I will have get out the feather duster and the mop - No! not to paint with. It will be a wonderful time - busy - but great fun. So if I am quiet this week - you know why!


Sunday, 27 May 2012

. . and more from Art Van Go - part 1

 One of the 'flipped out' exercises.

It is unusual for me to teach two similar courses consecutively, but what a treat for me that it was my favourite workshop. I will concentrate on the end result of the workshop at Art Van
as you will already have seen some similar work in the previous few posts.

My workshop Design, Inspiration and Interpretation is part of the design core that was part of my original four year course - Experimental Textiles. I am now teaching a shorter one year course of the same name at IDC/The Old Needle Works in Redditch. To have a look at what is involved in that course and for next years dates go to

Another 'flipped out' exercise.

It can be difficult to generate designs on demand. Even those of you with bulging sketchbooks of ideas can sometimes feel a bit lost when looking for inspiration. The formulae that I use to get students thinking about spaces in between and positive and negative space are not new and several other tutors use them - but they produce different results every time you do them. 

Creating original designs is so important in any line of work and whilst these exercises are methodical they can produce some fabulous results.
I am enjoying going back to basics with my workshops and am developing some new courses for next year. There are many workshops on fabulous and exciting techniques - but few on the basics, it will make such a difference to you and your work if you are confident on the basic use of colour and design.
This will be a two part post as the students created so much fabulous work.

Sue isolating a design from her 'journey'.

Once the students had isolated their designs and traced them off they were transferred into their sketchbooks. These designs were painted in two colourways - experimenting with contrasting and analogous colours and then whatever they fancied. These exercises are very basic - we all know how to do them - but we never take the time to do them. It is amazing how much you can get done when a tutor is standing over you . . .

Kate painting her designs.

 . . and Sue painting her designs.

Jackie produced this printing block (on the left) from one of her designs and this was the first print. She then had to decide if she wanted to overprint.
It is one of those things that you just have to try, if you don't try - you wont find out. If you don't like it - you can always print another sheet of paper.

Jackie was very pleased with the alternate overprints. she then had to decide whether to over print the rest.

. . . she did overprint the rest and this is the result - FABULOUS!

I always thoroughly enjoy teaching in the Art Van Go Studio, Kevin and Viv always look after their tutors and students so well. I am looking forward to working with Viv to develop some new 'Back to Basics' workshops.

I will show you what Lana, Kate and Linda got up to tomorrow . .


All the exercises featured in the past few posts can be found in my book Experimental Textiles.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

. . more from Art Van Go

A good time was had by all!

Funnily enough I haven't had much time to post on here - I have been SO well looked after. We had another BBQ last night so I didn't get a chance to do anything on here. So while my students are working happily by themselves for half an hour I will do a quick post - we are printing with the blocks the students have made from their designs.

This is Jackie  trying out one of her blocks  

I will post more tomorrow - I have taken loads of photos, I just need time to size them before I post them. I will be back home tomorrow to attack my garden and do this blog amongst many other tasks laying in wait for me.

Enjoy the weather.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Design, Inspiration and Interpretation at Art Van Go

This is just a quick post to say what a fabulous day we had today - I have the luxury of just 5 students in the group - we can spread out and work large!!! Wonderful!

This is very quick becuase Kevin is just serving up our barbque . . . .  more tomorrow.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

ExTex - the second day

 A section across ' The Journeys' hanging on the wall

Sunday saw the second day of my new course Experimental Textiles and the group of eight intrepid students were getting used to each other. I say intrepid because these students don't really know what the end of the course will bring - neither do I! 

The whole point of the course is to work through various basic exercises that any one can do but never have/take the time to do, along with good support, some exciting and original work will be created for the end of year show. It takes quite a leap of faith for students to sign up for this kind of course. I am only taking eight students each year. Eight is enough for a group to 'bond' and small enough for me to have time to work with each student individually. This will be a great treat for me - I'm not sure about the students!!!

I have chosen IDC at The Old Needle Works IDC/The Old Needle Works as the place to run the course as it is in the middle of the country, well served by road, rail and bus, and is run by Brenda Killigrew, a very good friend who understands what I am trying to do and has just the facilities I need - the space to create.

Some of 'The Journeys' hanging on the wall. When they are hung together they look as though they are one large design.

Another section across the journeys. It is great fun isolating designs.

My intrepid explorers taking sections and try different 2 way combinations.

 The 'flipping out' exercise.

A section taken from the exercise above and one colour painted in.

 In these two photos you can see the sections that have been traced and then 'flipped and mirrored'. These exercise can easily be performed on the computer but that doesn't help your design skills. It the taking the time and working and playing with the designs where the brain has time to relax and start to get ideas. The more machinery you use - the less your brain works and has the chance to go off on an idea.

Some of the designs painted up in two colourways. This is a great way to get to know your designs and also to experiment with mixing paints and colours.

We had a great couple of days together, I just hope the group weren't too tired after all their hard work. One of the students travels up from Tavistock in Devon and stays overnight - dedication indeed.
When we next meet we will be making printing blocks from this week-ends designs and printing onto paper and fabric. Lots of messy and colourful fun - Yeehaa!!!


I shall be teaching something very similar to this as a stand alone 3 day workshop Design, Inspiration and Interpretation at Art Van Go this week - Thursday - Saturday so prepare yourself for more design and colour - it's what we all need!

More of this soon - and who knows the sun may even shine and we can play in the Art Van Go garden . . . . . 


Saturday, 19 May 2012

The first day of ExTex - Yeeha!

Today was the first day of my new version of Experimental Textiles. It is wonderful to be teaching a longer course again and I have a group of eight lovely ladies who will be with me till the end of March next year.

We started on design exercises and tomorrow we will be taking sections from these and then working up two way colour designs. I am very  tired so will just show you some of the designs. I will show you what we get up tomorrow early next week.

So as you can see the girls worked hard today - this is just a selection of what we got up to . . . . . 

More soon.

I heard from the lovely Mr Mead at Art Van Go that my design course will be running next week - so there will be more of this to come - FABULOUS!!!


Thursday, 17 May 2012

A course at Art Van Go and several at Foredown Tower

Design exercises from a recent course at West Dean College

This just a quick post to let you know about some courses coming up.
I am due to teach my favourite workshop next week at Art Van Go - but I need 2 more students. It is a 3 day Design, Inspiration and Interpretation. 24th - 26th. Plenty of time to relax and enjoy various exercises (no, those ones are after lunch) which will help you discover and develop new ideas and original designs which can then help create stunning new pieces of work.
This course would be suitable for anyone in the visual arts field from stained glass to quilting and art textiles.

There will be time to develop a considered sample and work on a sketchbook. Three days of colour, stitch and design, what more could you ask? I don't usually have trouble filling workshops - it is always the 'D'esign ones that you are all afraid of. Could you forward this post if you know of anyone who may be interested? I do so enjoy teaching this kind of course - the results we get are fabulous - and of course - original.

I have just agreed to teach an extra course at Foredown Tower in August. It is a 3 day 'A new starting point' workshop -
3 days of fun and experimentation with painted and dyed newspaper, painted Bondaweb, gilding flake, sequins and all kinds of sparkle. Learn how to create amazing textures by creating faux chenille.  
On the first day we will paint and decorate the newspaper and Bondaweb and build up layers and textures ready to print and stitch onto. There will be plenty of jewel like products with which to embellish your work. The second day we will develop your samples with stitch ready to turn into vessels, boxes and caskets by backing the samples with craft Vilene and using my new toy - a Big Shot Pro die cutting machine on the third day. I would hope you would leave with at least one finished exquisite box. This workshop is suitable for any level of experience.

The 2 x 1 day workshops 'Bonded & bejewelled newspaper for stitch' that I had to cancel when I first got shingles have been re booked at Foredown Tower in July. All the students that originally booked on these 2 courses have been written to, to offer them first refusal. Once we know how many places are left - I will let you all know.


I'm off to Redditch and Inkberrow Design Centre tomorrow to teach the first week end of my new version of Experimental Textiles. I am SO excited.
And guess what we are playing with this weekend???? DESIGN!

There is no escaping it!

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Scrumptious Spunbond - Winchester Guild Workshop - May 10th

Painted Bondaweb ironed onto a cream background fabric and decorated with gilding flake, sequins and foil.

My first job back in this lovely green and very wet country was an afternoon lecture and workshop hosted by the Winchester Branch of the Embroiderers Guild. What an organised and helpful branch they are. There was definitely the buzz of a vibrant and focused group, they made me feel very energised. Does that make sense? My lecture went well - it was my first time talking about my 'Textile Travels' and it seemed to be well received.

I stayed that night with Susan Chapman, Susan lives close to where I would be teaching the next day so it all worked out very well. We had a great evening catching up with most of what we had been up to since we had seen other last at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC in March. We both had so much to talk about - the main source of conversation was Susan's new house - FABULOUS. I'm only a little bit jealous of what will be her studio space.

Vilene Spunbond CS500 backed with Bondaweb then cut with a soldering iron 

My workshop the next day was Scrumptious Spunbond. The idea of this workshop is to use painted Bondaweb to decorate Vilene Spunbond and the zap this with a heat gun to create beautiful encrusted textures. We also ironed Bondaweb onto pre-dyed Vilene Spunbond CS500 (the finest weight) and cut shapes from this with a soldering iron. This is basically applique, just using a soldering iron to cut the shapes instead of scissors. When using a soldering iron you can cut more intricate shapes and patterns.

The room was smaller than I would have liked and only had two sockets which was a bit of a worry as I had 15 students!!! We were very careful when we turned the irons on. One by one - luckily the circuit didn't flip out so we had a great day of experimentation. This group were hard workers and produced some fab samples.

 Painted Bondaweb ironed onto a striped fabric and decorated with slashes of heat transfer foil and gilding flake.

 Painted Bondaweb ironed onto black cotton and decorated with gilding flake, gold glitter and gold jewel dots.

 Vilene Spunbond CS800 (the heaviest one) decorated with painted Bondaweb, glitter and sequins and then zapped with a heat gun to create holes and gorgeous crusty bits!

 We also decorated various weights of Vilene Spunbond with transfer printing.

Vilene Spunbond CS500 backed with Bondaweb then cut with a soldering iron 
and ironed onto a background of CS500 making a very light but strong surface 
on which to stitch. Because these surfaces are translucent they would make fabulous window blinds or lampshades.


I am now preparing to teach my new version of Experimental Textiles at Inkberrow Design Centre in Redditch. It is very exciting for me, I have missed the regular contact you have with students on a longer course. Whilst it is great fun teaching one and two day workshops I miss having something to get my teeth into - so watch out my newbies . . . 
The first weekend will be design based - just what everyone avoids but what we all need - at regular intervals throughout our creative lives.
I will report back on our first weekend on Tuesday.

Speaking of design - I am teaching a three day course at Art Van Go next week.  Design, Inspiration and Interpretation. We have enough students to run the course but could do with a few more. This workshop is a simple way of generating original designs and helping you realise that 'design' isn't so scary after all . . . of course, all the biscuits and chocolates that are served at Art Van Go during the workshop help considerably.

I think that is enough for now, it's 10.45 pm, time for bed. 
night night!