Sunday, 30 September 2012

A new starting point - Genesis Textile Workshops 29th September

 Just a little glitter . . .

I hope you are sitting comfortably, this is going to be a long post -
On Saturday I taught a one day version of 'A new starting point' my new(ish) workshop based on using newspaper creatively, to a fab group called Genesis Textiles Workshops. This is a very active and organised group based in Solihul.  

  You always know that a workshop is going to go well when the biscuits and coffee come out first thing. . . .

You will be getting used to seeing (hopefully not bored with) images of my passion for newspaper, I hope that you will notice that no piece of work or sample is the same. The following images are created using my 'pretties and backgrounds' technique - which basically uses painted Bondaweb and torn newspaper with all kinds of gorgeous glittery bits and pieces. Gilding flake, glitter, sequins . . . . 

 Then of course we have to have lunch-

I know it is sometimes a great concern to who ever is charge of providing the tutors lunch, don't worry, we are happy with what ever you give us - a sandwich and an apple, a salad and bread roll, anything really.
Yesterday was a treat - I was given homemade squash, lentil and carrot coup and gorgeous bread followed by some lovely ripe cheeses and homemade chutney - a simple and tasty feast. It was so good I felt I needed a snooze afterwards.

After lunch the group printed onto one or two of their backgrounds in a colour that already existed in the piece they were printing onto. This helps the print become part of the work, not leap out and be the main interest. I think the work looks more interesting if the print fades in and out of definition. Lines and section of print can be further defined with hand or machine stitch, again in a colour that closely matches the print. 

Detail of the above image

 Detail of above image

The group also tried creating faux chenille with layers of newspaper and polyester organza. For some reason the next images wouldn't 'centre!!!!


 I thought I had taken photos of the faux chenille - but I didn't - herrummphh!! I must have been distracted by something . . .
I had a brilliant day with this great group, they produced some beautiful pieces. I hope some get sttiched into - hint hint!!!

This group are looking for new members so if you are interested in joining them, email me and I will forward your emails.


As promised - here are photos of our 'Friday night special' - before we ate it this time. It is an ENORMOUS chocolate sundae composed of chocolate brownie, profiteroles, ice cream and other gorgeous crunchy and squidgy delights. Please notice the three spoons. This time the lovely Linda was helping Bren and I devour this wickedness. 
I'm afraid I will be up in Redditch again in two weeks to teach my lovely ExTex group - I wonder where I will be on Friday night - Ha Ha!!!


  SO gorgeous and SOOOO naughty!

I am sitting here writing this with blue dye on my hair. I am preparing myself for an event this evening, and it is a full moon tonight - who knows what might happen . . . ! I must away and decide just what to wear, how much Polyfilla to apply, decisions, decisions . . . .

x x x

Friday, 28 September 2012

Laser cutting & Naughtiness - Yeeha!

 Chunks of rocky road, tiny meringues and a cake on a stick!!!

First to the naughtiness. There I was happily working away last night in Brenda's office at IDC, The Old Needle Works
 when she comes back from a W.I. meeting with lots of swag. Beautiful candles and lots of little tasty bits. Cakes on sticks, rocky road and lots of tiny little meringues. For those of you who don't know - IDC is where I teach my Experimental Textiles course.

I have come up to Redditch a day early because I have decided not to travel on a Friday if I can help it, it is just a nightmare. I am teaching for the Genesis Textile Group tomorrow. We are indulging in 'A new starting point'. More newspaper. It definitely seems to be the most popular workshop at the moment. The workshop is in Solihul, 30 minutes from Redditch so I thought I would stay with Brenda and help out in the office while she is teaching today - it should be peaceful enough to get on with planning the photo shoot for my book. I also need to paint up some Bondaweb ready for tomorrow.

This week has been quite an exciting one for me for many reasons, one of which was taking some foiled interfacing to be laser cut. It was a 'look & see what happens' exercise. I need to see how a piece of equipment works before I can start to think about how I can use it for my work. Claire Pain has a laser cutting business and she is helping me cut and engrave a new range of jewellery. Claire and I met when she was a student on one of the Foredown Tower workshops. Claire has been SO helpful - helping my poor brain work out what I would like to do and how we can achieve this. Between us we are going to create some very interesting textures and FAB shapes. Claire is very patient and so helpful.

 These are few of the basic test shapes I had cut, we needed to see if see if layers I had created would cut and at which speed. I now need to design the shapes and sort out the design for the engraving - it's all very exciting. I needed to mask off the piece of foiled interfacing as the laser would not cut such a reflective surface. It would be a bit like putting tin foil in a microwave, not good!!!! I have been thinking about stocking Fuse n Tear, as an embroidery stabiliser and and as a support for wibbly wobbly things you want to put through your ink jet. You just iron it on and peel if off and you can use it several times. You can also use Fuse n Tear to mask off your reflective work when putting it through a laser cutter. So I will be stocking it - a very useful product indeed! Don't you love it when a plan comes together?


I must get back to work now, I need to contact all the artists who will be featuring in my next book, the photo shoot is next  month - aaRRGHH!!! I'm NOT going to leave it so late to write it this time . . .

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Time to dream . . . and play!

 Iron-on interfacing colourwashed blue. This was then foiled all over with silver transfer foil and printed onto with one of my favourite wooden printing blocks. This can be done with the heavy pelmet Vilene (S133) if you want to make a box, or the softer Decovil 1 or Decovil light to make book covers or bags - gorgeous. I sell all three -

 Painted Bondaweb layered with torn newspaper, dot jewels and glitter.

 I have a few weeks of calm looming - to write the book and start a new body of work. I am also making up some layered newspaper samples to have laser cut to my own designs to start making my new range of brooches and earrings. I love it when there is room in your brain for ideas to start slinking in.
This tends to need time and space - all of which I have for while. I have plenty of things to catch up with, but there should also be time for play. 
As most of you will know I think it is vital for any artist to play with their materials - it can lead to so many exciting developments, but this does need time. I have been having great fun making several samples similar to the one at the top of this post.

It is interesting how patterns and connections occur in our lives, a student on one of my Foredown Tower courses has a laser cutting business and is going to help me magically transfer my designs onto her computer where they can then be transferred to a laser cutter and my designs are then cut - it is a magical process I find best left to the experts. I can just about manage to use Photoshop to lighten or darken images and change the size.
A detail of the image above.

I love printing onto the decorated papers, they make fabulous backgrounds.

Both wooden printing blocks are from -

Foredown Tower Workshops
My Foredown Tower weekend workshops are filling up fast so if you wanted to book on to any I would do so soonish, even the ones next year are half full already. Creating Original Designs on October 20/21 and Making Printing Blocks November 17/18 link together or can be booked separately. These are important workshops for anyone interested in generating their own designs.

As a thank you to all my followers - if any one wants to book and pay for 3 Foredown Tower workshops they can do so and pay £250. The workshops are usually £95 for a two day workshop so that saves you £35. Go to
for a booking form - if the booking form wont submit (it only seems to work on certain browsers GGGrrrrr!) Just send me an email with your name, address and phone number and which workshops you want to book onto.

I'm off to bake a cake and experiment with a printing process I have been wanting try for while, through my ink jet! If it works I will let you know  . . .


Hello Jill and Christine. x

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

ExTex 5th Weekend - Constructed Textiles - 15th/16th September part 2

 A lovely little bowl that is a work in progress . . . .

 I had forgotten how much I enjoy incorporating metal into textiles - so much so I will be teaching a new four day Metal Works? workshop at The Old Needle Works next Easter. Of course it helps to have students that have enquiring minds and enjoy experimenting. We worked with metal shims, knitted copper and metal mesh, mostly copper and brass. We tried embossing and punching out shapes as well as heat distressing to change the colour. We used a heat gun for this. My heat guns are 350 watt and are hot enough to colour copper. Anyone who has been on any of my workshops will know that I don't advocate using a naked flame. 
I have had a selection of alcohol inks in a box for a about three years waiting for 'when I have a minute'!!! This was a great chance to use them to colour the metals. I also demonstrated transferring transfer painted papers on to the metal but that really needs to be saved til our next session when we will be working with transfer paints and dyes.

 I love this little bowl made by Liz. It incorporates strips of copper that have been embossed over texture plates and heated to change the colour. Liz has also attacked the edges with a small hole punch, a laborious task - but worth it. Liz is hoping to finish the bowl for her homework.

 Three copper strips showing what Liz was working with.
 Sally experimented with working into knitted copper tube with wire and beads. It ended up being a stunning piece of work. Very medieval looking. - I want it -  but it is too small to go over my meaty hand. It will look much better on Sally's long , elegant arm.

 Claire had a go with transfer printing a paper bag onto a piece of brass shim. I wasn't going to show the girls this technique until the next session when we are working with disperse and procion dyes but Claire happened to have a bag on her table and it seemed daft not to use it . . . .

 Claire also tried working into knitted copper tube and then embellished it with beads and ribbon yarn.
 Shaun has a very thoughtful and delicate approach, she experimented with layers of mesh and cutting and embossing 'medallions'. I am looking forward to see how Shaun continues with this.

 A piece of steel shim with alcohol inks were dabbed on. You can see where Shaun cut out her 'medallions'.

 Copper mesh heat gunned to change the colour with embossed copper shapes.

 Whilst I was having a look at Tracey's work, (it can be difficult as she works in a bit of nest) I noticed this paper exercise from a while ago that she had started stitching into. I love the way she uses stitch. I am hoping Tracey will have time to add more stitch. Hint, hint!

If you would like to see all the photos of the course so far and you are on Facebook go to


 It will come as no surprise that I like puddings, desserts a little sweet something . . . .  I drive up to Redditch the day before I teach ExTex and I have to eat somewhere . . .   
It has now become a tradition that Brenda (Brenda Killigrew - director of IDC at The Old Needle Works and Castnaea)
and I, head off to the local pub and have a great meal finished off with a huge chocolate sundae. It is very economical - it is cheaper than ordering two desserts - honestly. It is a concoction of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate brownie and profiteroles with chocolate sauce and squirty cream. I forgot to take a picture until we were halfway through . . . .

 See - there ARE two spoons!

Half way through - it's a tough job . . . .

I will back in Redditch quite soon as I will teaching in Solihull on the 29th and will be staying with Bren the night before - and we will have to eat SOMEWHERE . . .


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

ExTex 5th Weekend - Constructed Textiles - 15th/16th September part 1

 Jo's beautiful weaving sample.

 This will be the first of two posts.
 It may have been a little optimistic to think I could teach feltmaking, weaving, metal shim manipulation and finger knitting on one weekend and have the students develop a considered sample. 
When you write a course and then break it down into the teaching hours, it works in your head - but not necessarily in practise. To be fair I knew all but one or two of the group had felted and woven before and we were only going spend the morning going over the principles of the processes. I didn't however take into consideration how the group would grab each process and devour it!! They are such a FAB group - up for anything and ready to get involved in anything I suggest. The idea of the weekend was to look at constructed textile processes ie weaving, felting and knitting and also look at constructed as in 3D.

We ended up making small felt vessels/bowls in the morning as most of the group had made flat felt before but not 3D felt. Several lovely little vessels were made but I don't seem to have images of them. GGGgrr!!! I must concentrate more and enjoy myself less.

 Liz's Fab little bowl.
 2 pieces of flat felt by Claire - she also made a bowl!!


 Emma made these gorgeous samples and enjoyed stitching into them.

After lunch we attacked weaving - when I say attacked, I mean attacked. The whole point of the weekend was to show that you could get great results with very low tech processes. The weaving was very low tech, we made looms out of card and wove with whatever the group had brought into share. They produced some lovely samples.

 Tracey working on her first sample, she created at least three!

 This was one of Tracey's samples using plastics, paper and malibu feather trim - Fab!

 Shaun decided to weave into cardboard packaging supported on a card loom.

 to be continued . . .
 Jo sorting out her yarns and loom for the sample at the top of the post.

 Heidi wove with wool tops and then went home and tacked up the sample in calico and popped it into the washing machine - I of course forgot to take a photo of the finished shrunk piece. The washing machine method is one of my favourite ways of felting. I just hate all the tacking and taking out of tacking.

 I think this was Claire's . . every one was teasing her about using green - again!

Who's was this one???? Emma?

 This was Liz's sample - lots of gorgeous texture.

It it always very satisfying to teach a group that are so keen to play - because that is what it is all about, taking time to play - to see will happen. It can be hard to work with a process and not know what the end result will be - it can be a great leap of faith. I was very pleased with the girls created on the first day and the next day they . . . . . . .  . .  to be continued! x