Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Puzzle of Colour - TSG Summer School

One of my small hand stitched samples - viscose satin, silk and scrim.

OOhhh!!! What a week we had - pure colour and enjoyment. 'The puzzle of colour' was the one week workshop delivered by Ruth Issett. The other workshops were 'Tales of the unexpected' with Kay Greenlees and 'Magic in the making' with Mary Sleigh.

The TSG summer school is a 5 day residential at Harper Adams University in Newport, Shropshire. One of the joys of these summer schools is that there is no washing up, cooking or phone calls. Just the opportunity to work uninterrupted - FANTASTIC.

 Ruth in action doing 'one to ones' with each member of the group.

Any one who has read any of my books or who knows me professionally will know that Ruth is one of the guiding lights in my 'career' and that I think she is a Superstar! So I jump at any chance to work with her. You can never learn or know enough about colour.

Our week was based on looking at the relationship between colours. We didn't use dye all week which meant we could concentrate on composition and stitch. We worked through various colour exercise including mark making and collage. I won't go through them with you as they are Ruth's ideas - not mine.

I can show you the small layered, hand stitched samples looking at complimentary colours. My little paper collage is in the middle - the samples are all around 4" square.

I didn't create anything like as many finished or well considered samples as  most of the group but what I did I was pleased with. To be totally honest I was just pleased to sit and stitch - please note I don't use the word embroider, there is a difference. Working in a room, surrounded by a fabulous group and so much colour is very therapeutic. I think we all had one of the best weeks ever - one of the magical times. It was of course a lot to do with such an excellent and generous tutor.

Three of my small samples with a detail of my very elegant herringbone stitch!!!

Because we were working with pre dyed fabrics I was able to use some of the fabrics I had dyed on previous course with Ruth. 

 These are simple samples playing with colours using very my very basic stitch repertoire. I was first introduced to viscose satin five years ago on another summer school with Ruth. I love how it shines and how it feels to hold when you hand stitch it. I tend to use matt, sewing machine threads for stitch. 

I so enjoyed my week - if any of the group do look at this blog - thank you for such a wonderful time and for being such fun and so supportive.

Love to Jill and Tallulah!


The summer school finishes at 2pm on Friday which is not the best time to drive down to Brighton so I nipped over to Redditch to my see my lovely friend Brenda Killigrew at The Old Needleworks where I teach Experimental Textiles. I didn't want to start driving home till about 8pm when almost everyone in the U.K. would be watching the Olympic opening ceremony. Brenda and I had a good chance to have long chat about next year over a delicious Indian meal.
We have sorted out a new summer school programme for The Old Needleworks next year - it will be very exciting. 

We also talked about the materials I would be needing to teach my course in October in Spain for Brenda's company Castanea
We had a very productive meeting, it was great to see Brenda on her own and out of college where she is always so busy - we got a lot of things sorted. She is a great friend and like so many of my friends, and I don't see her often enough.

I have a week at home this week to sort out piles of paper work and emails. The garden and the house also need sorting out - they are both in a right state. Although I was very pleased to return home and find my pots of annuals hadn't died in the heat . . .

I hope the next post will contain images of the piles of weeds, brambles and BINDWEED I need to pull or dig out!


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Extreme Surfaces for Stitch - West Dean College July 17 - 20

Mary's beautiful composition of painted Bondaweb, newspaper, foils, gilding flake and jewel dots - and seaweed!

Every now and then in your teaching life you come across a 'super' group. 'Super' in the the way they work together, share their materials and experience and of course they produce some fabulous work. It is particularly unusual to find this on a three day course - it is something I would associate with much longer course. Nine students who have never met before with the widest divide of experience and age from 17 to much older, experience ranged from very little through City and guilds up to degrees and a PHD in textiles based subjects.

"Where sheep may safely graze . . " 
The view outside the workshop door - sigh . . . it is so beautiful.

Of course, being at West Dean College helped, what with stunning surroundings, space to work and wonderful food it would be difficult to find anywhere else more suited to creativity.

This is going to be along post I'm afraid - I was going to do it in two parts but I have run out of time. Life has been more frantic than usual in the last few days.

Our studio - each student has their own table with it's own power supply - and space!

We started off by painting up all the products - we would be working with Bondaweb, Vilene Spunbond CS800 (heavy weight), Tyvek, cellophane and not on the course description but it's hard to say no! Newspaper.

The following images all incorporate painted Bondaweb in some way.

 Painted Bondaweb layered with polyester organza, skeleton leaves and gilding flake.

 Painted Bondaweb on Decovil 1 iron-on interfacing with just a few jewel dots . . .

 Painted Bondaweb with various threads and jewel dots.

 Just painted Bondaweb . . . Fab!

And then the newspaper started to arrive . . . .

Although using newspaper wasn't part of the course it would have been mean to to stop the group using it as most of them had seen what others groups had been trying on this blog - they were all very well informed.

When you are using newspaper and you have sewing machines to hand it would be remiss of me not to show the group how to create faux chenille with newspaper. All the newspapers used are what was used to paint all the products on so they have a mixture of paint and procion colourwash on.

 Newspaper with polyester organza.

  Just plain old newspaper

Newspaper faux chenille with a Tyvek sample. 

We then got out the soldering irons and started to cut shapes from Vilene Spunbond and polyester organza. This process is basically applique but using a soldering iron rather than scissors to cut out your design from any kind of synthetic fabric. You can achieve more intricate shapes with a soldering iron.

 Polyester organza . . 

 . . which was backed with a bright green organza and an acetate sheet to create a 3D shape.

 Polyester organza and Vilene Spunbond applied to a pelmet/craft Vilene.

 Chrissi created several of these delightful designs cut from Vilene Spunbond.

 Vilene Spunbond and polyester organza layered up and ironed onto more Vilene Spunbond . .

  . . and a detail.

A simple sample - 2 layers of polyester organza with a shape cut out leaving the negative space.

  . .and more . .

We also played with texturing and foiling Tyvek - half the group liked it - half didn't, Tyvek isn't for everyone.
 A selection of Tyvek samples.

 An exquisite corsage created from unpainted Tyvek.
 A very beautiful and well considered sample of layered Tyvek and polyester organza, Bernadette created a whole range of samples based on Alliums.

 A lovey colourful sample of Tyvek layered with polyester organza that has zapped with a heat gun to reveal different layers of colour. (cheeky reverse applique)

 Everything you can do with Tyvek you can with cellophane.

As you can see the group produced some fabulous work - they did get around to stitching some of the samples but I didn't get round to photographing them. I am hoping some of the group will send me some images when they finish stitching - Hint, Hint!!!

I would like to thank Mary, Christine, Bernadette, Lauren, Chrissi, Jane, Gill, Annabelle and Emily for a fantastic 3 days.

If you are on Facebook go to
to see many more images.


I'm now going to dash about collecting all the kit I need for the TSG summer school starting tomorrow in Shropshire - I am going to be student for a week - sheer bliss - it will be hard work and great fun.
I will be on a course with Ruth Issett - FANTASTIC!!!! I will be very quiet for a week . . . x

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Experimental Textiles 3rd week end - part 2

One of Emma's resist prints

The second day was to be spent looking at colour and how other artists use it. The group attacked their colour wheels with gusto and managed to complete their tints and tones charts with good humour. It can be very trying to have to spend a good hour or so on very controlled colour mixing but it is very important for students to know how to mix colour. Whilst most of us use colour instinctively - colour wheels are very useful when a project you are working on just isn't working colour wise and you need to work out why . . . .

The tints, tones and shades chart and a colour wheel.

I won't bore you all with images of all the colour exercises we did - here are some more of Saturdays resist printing samples -

As we had the dye/colourwash out, some of the students continued their experiments with wax crayons and dye/colourwash and then taking away or discharging the colour with Milton sterilising liquid. I don't use bleach anymore as the fumes are just too strong when working in a group.

I had suggested types of printed papers for the group to bring and try colourwashing - old novels were very popular. This is a selection of Sally's experiments.

These will no doubt come back next time torn and stitched into.

I think Sally was speaking for the whole group when she painted this word with the Miltons - they were all feeling very brain dead after painting their colour charts. But they did very well!


I am off to teach at West Dean College now - it will be a tight turn around when I get back late Friday afternoon. I have wedding all Saturday and then I need to pack, load and leave for the TSG Summer School by 1pm on Sunday. I will try to do a quick blog before I leave.

Jill - not long now - YYEEHHAaaaa! x

Take care and have fun!