Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Experimental Textiles - the last weekend.

 Transfer printed satin covered with hand knitted wire embellished with hand stitch - by Sally.

It is sad when a long course comes to an end - it is also a time to celebrate all the hard work of the past year. Friendships have been made amongst the group that I hope will last for years to come.

 Sally stitching in to the sample above.

 We started off with eight students and lost two along the way through broken bones and pressure of work. I am hoping that Liz of the broken bones will be picking up the course again some time this year and hopefully Emma will feel more able to work with the group as they go forward into new ventures.

 Claire and Shaun appear to be working hard but were definitley feeling slightly hysterical and mucking about.

Claire blamed the caffeinated tea she drank at lunchtime for her extreme fit of the giggles.
(Claire normally drinks decaffeinated).

Heidi working hard on her wall piece.

 Jo creates the most beautiful weaving and has been experimenting with 3D forms.

 Tracey usually sticks to her corner and creates a fabulous nest of work. 
No space is left uncovered.

 I spent most of the weekend sorting through all the work to decide what will go into the show next month at the NEC while the group carried on working independently. It was difficult job as there was such a lot of work of a very high standard, but we cant hang everything.

Here are few of the more considered samples that the students have been working on. There will be many more at the show.
 Painted Bondaweb decorated with texture gel pushed a stencil.
 Faux chenille with newspaper and polyester organza.

 Transfer printed synthetic fabrics cut with a soldering iron and layered together.
 Newspaper faux chenille decorated with machine and hand stitch.

 A fabulous print with 'mirrored' printing blocks.

 Printed craft/pelmet Vilene decorated with hand stitch.

Transfer printed bubble pack.

Transfer printed bubble pack decorated with machine stitch.

 A table full of fabulous paper samples . . . .
 . . . and a table of beautiful prints - some embellished with hand stitch.

Cardboard packaging woven into with newspaper strips and then printed onto and hand stitched.

 We have all come a long way since the beginning of the course last May. The course runs for nine weekends and I teach basic design, colour, print and drawing exercises. There is no accreditation, the students are encouraged develop their own ideas and style of work and to learn to work independently. I had not taught Experimental Textiles this way before so the group were 'guinea pigs'. They did me proud - I am so pleased with what they have achieved. 

Teaching the course at IDC, The Old Needle Works in Redditch is a bonus. It is an old industrial site with great character - run very ably by my good friend Brenda Killigrew and her team. As Redditch is roughly in the middle of the country it is a good place to run the course and makes it accessible to students who live further afield. The college is next to the bus and train station and is close to motorways. For example Shaun lives in Plymouth and stayed at the local Holiday Inn when she came up.

I had a lovely surprise at the end of the day, the group presented me with a very heavy box of chocolates and two absolutely beautiful books. 
The kind of books you want to sit and stroke the pages of, full of stunning colour and texture.

The next course will start again at the end of May with a new group. Anyone interested can have a look at the course outline at experimentaltextiles.com.
At present there are five places left. As the group are exhibiting at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC next month I expect the course to fill very quickly so if you are interested - don't leave it too long . . . 


I am home for a whole week - I have piles and piles of paperwork to catch up on and I need to sort out my poor untidy house. It looks as though I have been burgled.

I will be off to Glasgow for Creative Stitches at the SECC next week. Wendy Dolan and her hubby Rob will be there too. We stay in the same hotel and have a great time together. They were a great help to me last year in Glasgow when I was suffering the pain from shingles. I was in a terrible state and they were absolutely marvellous. I carry a pack of Aciclovir with wherever I go, I am terrified of shingles coming back. I am very wary of any itchy spot that appears. Paranoid? Me? Definitely!

I hope that anyone who was is my Saturday lecture at the show last year will come back and see me in better health and listen to the whole lecture without me collapsing this time.

So, that was all a year ago and taught me that I am human and do need to rest occasionally. I am much fitter now although I still have the neuralgia. I am starting to reduce the high dose of Gabapentin I have been taking every four hours for the past year and hope I will eventually come off it. 

I hope to make some new samples for the upcoming shows this week and will report anything new I think you may be interested in.

Have a good week.

p.s. I have been writing this post listening to the new Emilia Mitiku album - it's fabulous. x

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Craft, Hobby & Stitich International at the NEC

The Freudenberg Vilene stand at the NEC.

Whew!! Well that was a weekend!
The show was on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It was VERY busy on Sunday and then less so as the show went on. I enjoy working at the trade show. It is less frantic than the usual consumer shows that I do. There is an air of calm as all the visitors wander about the show meeting their contacts on different stands and doing deals. Everyone is very smart and tidy.

My job was to demonstrate the more unusual techniques that you are all familiar with using Vilene products on the stand and also running the retailer workshops for Vilene. This involves teaching a forty five minute workshop every day for twenty retailers. The workshops were a bit manic - I think I tried to do too much . . . We were foiling on to my new loves Decovil 1 and Decovil light. We then printed onto the Decovil light with acrylics and the excellent Colourful Thoughts multi surface paints from Craftynotions. www.craftynotions.com These surfaces would be fabulous for stitching into, by hand or machine.

We then ran the foiled Decovil 1 through my Big Shot machine using texture folders to create - texture! The textures were then very lightly rubbed with paint to show up the design.


The metallic, shiny surface of the foil contrasted nicely with the matt surface of the paints.

The final workshop was yesterday morning at 9.30 and as soon as the lovely lady second from the left walked in I knew it would be party time!!! Do any of you recognise her?

I am home for two days then I am back up to the midlands to teach the last Experimental Textiles session.
It was great to see Viv and Kevin from Art Van Go www.artvango.co.uk on a rare day 'off' and many other friends including Liz, Denise and Angie.


I will report back on how my 'girls' are doing on the last session before their show at the NEC in March - gulp! 


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Manchester, good friends and puddings!

A melt in the middle chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream and delicious chocolate sauce.

It has been pointed out to me by a certain gentleman in the Portsmouth area that I have been rather remiss in my posting duties. It can be difficult to find the time and then wifi to post on the blog when I am travelling, particularly when I am doing a show. I hope this one makes up for my silence.

I got back from the Manchester show yesterday after calling in on a few friends on the way. The show was held at Event City just opposite The Trafford Centre in Manchester. I haven't known SUCH a busy show for a long time. I am used to busy shows, but this one was bonkers! And they were such lovely people, I don't think they get many craft shows of the ICHF (International Craft and Hobby Fairs) calibre in that area of the country. My lectures were full every day with standing room only, I wasn't sure how busy they would be as I have never travelled to that area before. I needn't have worried.

 My stand - looking reasonably tidy from a distance.

Not quite so tidy when you get up close.

I had a brilliant time talking to all the people who came to my stand, so many interested and interesting people. It really was a wonderful show, I hope I get chance to go back.
 The lovely Dionne Swift showing her new stitched pieces to one of the fabulous ladies who attended the show.

I didn't get much chance to see what else was at the show but Dionne was just up the aisle from me. She was working on some gorgeous new stitched panels - for more information go to Dionnes website www.dionneswift.co.uk
There is link on this site to her Facebook page. I hadn't seen Dionne since we taught together in Australia last year. We will both be at Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch at the NEC in March so we should get another chance for a catch up.

My great friend Brenda Killigrew also had a stand at the show ably helped by her minder/PA Linda. Brenda is the owner of IDC at The Old Needleworks in Redditch where I teach my Experimental Textiles course. We had a lot of interest in the new course that starts in May - it is filling up fast. If anyone is interested got to the website experimentaltextiles.com

Linda showing off hers and Brenda's tiramisu.

On Friday night Brenda, Linda and I went to The Trafford Centre for dinner. The girls wanted to show me the centre as I had never been before. I was amazed, it certainly puts all the shopping centres I have been to to shame. what an incredible place. I loved 'the ship' and the huge choice of restaurants. we had a great evening. I will be seeing Brenda again in a couple of weeks when I teach my final session for the this years group of Ex Tex girls.

While I was in Birmingham I stayed with Jill and her husband Simon. Jill is a busy teacher of very many talents and I meet her every year at the T.S.G  (Textile Study Group) summer school. We have become good friends over the years and it was great to be able to spend more time with her. Jill worked on the stand with me on the Saturday and helped me with the break down of the stand at the end of the day. As a thank you for Jill and Simon for putting me up (or should that be - putting up with me?) I took them to a splendid local pub for a fabulous meal. I can't remember the name of the pub but it is in Disley by the station. The food really was very good - as was the company!

The sharing plate.

When we had checked the menu out online, Jill had noticed there was a sharing plate on offer so when we got to the pub and ordered we skipped the starters - wisely as it turned out. From the top, clockwise - creme brulee, a slice of treacle tart with lemon curd (ohhh!!! that was gorgeous!) rhubarb crumble and custard and chocolate brownie and ice cream. Oh! how Jill and I suffered. Simon had a ice cream sundae so it was just Jill and I left to demolish the sharing plate - we managed womanfully . . . . .

I left Jill's house on Sunday morning with not too much snow on the ground. I was off to see another friend from the TSG summer school, Sandra and her hubby Greg. I drove across to Clowne in Derbyshire via Snake Pass. I have never driven along this road, I have only heard it mentioned on the travel news when it snows. It was absolutely stunning - I really wanted to stop and take photos but it had started to snow - hard, and I didn't like to stop. I hope to return when the weather is warmer. Although the snow on the trees and on the dry stone walls won't be there - it will be safer.

I met Sandra for lunch, and yes, we had puddings.

 This is Sandra and delicious ice cream sundae with chocolate flakes.
 I succumbed to the sticky toffee pudding - a girl has to do what a girl has to do . . . .

I had great evening with Sandra and Greg on Sunday night then it was off to Newark to go and bully David of Craftynotions.com www.craftynotions.com

 David is providing the paints for my retailer workshops at the trade show which starts on Sunday at the NEC in Birmingham. I am doing 45 minute workshops everyday for retailers attending the show. If any of you are retailers attending the show here is the link for the workshops www.chsi.co.uk/workshops I will be on Stand no D14 working with the team from Freudenberg - Vilene Retail.
 David didn't have time to hide under the desk.

I don't often get up to see David and have a catch up,(much to his relief) we had a good chat about some of  the new things he is bringing out soon and we had a fab lunch - but no pudding! I hope to be seeing David on way home from the Glasgow show next month. I will need more of his divine gilding flake by then.

 A box of gorgeousness - Colourful Thoughts multi surface paints and big pots of gilding flake.

After saying goodbye to David it was off to Knebworth to see Viv and Kevin from Art Van Go. I always pop in when I can, they have become good friends and I don't see them often enough. Teaching there two or three times a year is fine, but not enough and I do miss them.

Viv trying to hide behind a mug of tea . . . 

 Kevin moving so fast he blurred . . .

We had a great evening and I will be seeing them again next week at the trade show where they will be visitors for a change.

The new workshop list is now live on the Art Van go website www.artvango.co.uk/workshops/ There are several new tutors teaching at Art Van Go as well as some wonderful regular ones. Who could I possibly mean?
I wanted to enrol on Julia Triston's workshop in July but I will be teaching at Denman College.

 I bought some fabulous wooden printing blocks for the next weeks workshops.

I needed some printing blocks for the workshops next week and of course Art Van Go had just what I needed - they have such a choice there. The shop is such an Aladdin's cave.

It was wonderful catching up with all my friends, living in Brighton is great, but it is a long way from the North of the country.


I must now dash off and pack up and post a load of orders for nid-noi.com. A lot of orders have arrived since I left. My new delivery of Hot Spots! should arrive from Germany this week. There will be article about them in next months issue of Stitch magazine.

I am hoping to find a new heat gun at the trade show, my last one was discontinued, ggrrr!!!

More next week.

x x x x

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Having fun with a laser cutter!

 Foiled and engraved Decovil 1 cut with a Big Shot Pro die cutting machine to create a heart shaped box.
Hello, Yes! I know I have been quiet - did you enjoy the peace?
I have been fighting with finishing the manuscript for my next book and getting samples made for the shows that start next week in Manchester.

The manuscript is with my publishers (Hurrah!) and I have a few samples to show you.
I love teaching and meeting new students - and old ones! Claire Pain was a new student last year on my Foredown Tower workshops. She was great fun and fitted in well with the usual slightly bonkers ladies that attend my workshops. 
I love working with people who know how to have a good time.

Decovil 1 and Decovil light pre-coloured and foiled and then engraved by Claire on her laser cutter.

We were talking in class and Claire mentioned she had a laser cutting business, well, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I have been looking for someone to work with who understood what I wanted to achieve with a laser cutter - and here she was! I don't understand the computer programs that you need to use to make a laser cutter 'go'. I know what I want - but didn't know anyone patient, or interested enough to help me.

Claire has been cutting out all my jewellery shapes and engraving some of the surfaces. I have been working with the iron-on interfacings and foiling them.
Claires website is www.lasercutsussex.com

The heart shaped box.

Whilst the engraving is great fun, I am still using my usual decorative techniques to decorate Heavy Pelmet Vilene plus (S133) to create my earrings and brooches.

Earrings created from dyed Japanese papers.

More Japanese papers with gilding flake.

Foiled and engraved earrings.

The light is so bad at the moment - the images of the earrings are not the best - but you will get the idea. I must dash off now and make a cake - the parents are coming for tea and you can imagine the state of my house. It looks as though I have been burgled - I would much rather play with samples than clean . . . 

If I don't get a chance to post before I leave - I hope to see some of you at Event City, Manchester for the new show there - details top right of blog.


See you soon Jill x