Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year! Choice . Chance . . or Luck?

One should always be appropriately dressed when teaching!

It's New Years Eve, how did that happen? 
It is a great time to look back over the past year and think of friends you have met, places you have been and the wonderful things you have seen.

2015 was a busy year with 2 trip to the Antipodes, 3 trips to Ireland - 2016 will be even more bonkers . . .

A sign on the wall of the World of Wearable Art exhibition in Auckland.

I have met a lot of you at the various shows that I do throughout the year, both for myself and for Vilene. We have wonderful chats and discussions about all manner of things as well as textiles, and of course, chocolate! 
One of the main topics seems to be how lucky I am. Until the middle of this year, I had never really though about it - I always say Yes! I am. A good friend of mine who also works on the stand with me, pointed out with great emphasis, that I am not 'lucky'. I have made the decisions and choices that have brought me to this point in my life. I have also worked quite hard in my field for the past 25 years. Having never really thought about it before, it was quite a surprise to think about my life as a series of choices and decisions (some good - some terrible). Of course, chance does come into it. But not as much as you think. One of the best decisions I ever made, was to be different. It took longer for me to get established - but it has been worth it.

My greatest support - my sister - Lynda, 
making Snowball cocktails on Christmas morning

Few of us get by without the support of colleagues, friends and family. They also play a big part. I have spent most of this holiday thinking and planning and taking stock - as you may have noticed.

Anyway - enough of the thinking, lets get on with the blog post.
2015 started with a trip to New Zealand - I LOVE New Zealand. I had been asked to teach at the Quilt Symposium at Palmerston North. 5 x one day workshops!!! I am always amazed at quilters wanting to do workshops with me. 
You have an idea of what a 'quilter' is and what sort of courses they might enjoy. Of course, they are just like anybody else, they want to try all the latest techniques and work with tutors they find interesting.

The tutors who taught at the symposium. From all corners of the world.

The Quilt Symposium was remarkable - over 1.000 students. It was incredibly well organised down to the smallest detail. I have worked at various residential courses both in the UK and in Australia, but I have never experienced anything quite like this event. It really was truly astounding. It was wonderful to meet and work alongside such fabulous tutors - we had a ball - we did work hard too.

One of the happy students on the 1 day version of 'A New Starting Point'.

All my courses were full, even the design one. . . it had a waiting list as well.

The group getting stuck into their 'journeys'.

If you would like to see more of this amazing event have a look at this past blog post.

After the North Island - it was onto the South Island and my mateys Denise and Christine. Having been to New Zealand a few times I have made some lovely friends. These 2 are the best - such fun. Christine had arranged for me to teach a design based workshop that led onto making printing blocks and printing fabrics. This was based in Blenheim. Everyone sees what I am teaching in the UK via the blog and Facebook - they then also want to play!

Christine and Denise looking at the 'journeys' on the wall.

Denise painting up her 2 colour way section from her journey.

The group chatting and printing.

Christine mucking about!

On of the designs made into printing blocks and then printed.

More of this workshop can be seen here . .

Back home in February is was on with the shows and more workshops. As many of you will know, most of my bookings are made 1 - 2 years ahead. Large events like the Symposium are booked 3 years ahead. So it is always great when a workshop that has been in the diary for a long while, hoves into view.

I taught workshops at Art Van Go in Knebworth, The Bridge in Brighton and for guilds in Newbury, Solihull and North Kent and Belsey Bridge and Chichester. I get the best students, they work hard and have fun.

I love the excitement at the end of a workshop when everyone is looking at the  work created on the workshop.

 One of the samples created on the Solihull workshop.
Lutradur applique cut with a soldering iron.

One of the greatest pleasures I have is teaching my Experimental Textiles course. I am currently teaching it at the IDC Studios at The Old Needleworks in Redditch. The course is going well. It is run over 9 weekends from June to March. If you are interested in the course, have a look at the website. 
This is the 4th year of my teaching the course in its current form. I will be teaching one more year after this, then I will stop and teach it online.

ExTex 4 drawing the still life.

The Vilene stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexander Palace

I appear to have created my job with Vilene. I am officially a Creative Consultant. As many of you will know, I have been working and experimenting with Vilene products for years. It seems I am employable!!! It means I get to do The Festival of Quilts and The Knitting and Stitching Shows, at least for the next 2 years. All the shows and dates are on the diary on the right of this post.

I dashed off to Australia in September to teach at the Geelong Forum. I flew into Melbourne and the day after I arrived I met the lovely Glenys Mann for lunch in Federation Square. I hadn't seen her for a year or so - it was a real treat to have a good catch up.

Glenys Mann outside one of the exhibitions we visited at Federation Square.

On the way to Federation Square I walked down one of my favourite lanes in Melbourne - the one that is full of graffiti.

This one caught my eye amongst all the colourful madness.

There is a lot more about my time in Melbourne and the graffiti here

Before I taught at the Forum in Geelong, I met up with my friend Gillian who is a member of the Geelong Embroiderers Guild and had organised for me to teach - yes,  you guessed it, my design workshop. So the journeys were painted, printing blocks made and printed fabric in abundance.

  One of the printed samples created on the Geelong workshop.

There is a lot more about this workshop and some more amazing graffiti on these posts.

Then it was onto the Forum - my goodness it was fun. Hard work with lots to do but very good fun. I met some fabulous tutors and great students. They produced some remarkable work - do have a look at the blog here 1  and here
My splendid group of girls - what fun we had, and I was introduced to Haigs chocolate -scrummy.

It was then home and straight into The Knitting and Stitching Shows, starting with Alexander Palace in London. I had 2 weeks off before the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show and spent it on the West Coast of Ireland. It is so beautiful there, I love the wildness of it. 
One of the many delights of teaching is you get you meet other tutors and make new friends. One if whom is Nicola Brown. We met on the Forum in Geelong. 
Nicola lives in County Carlow in Ireland and as luck would have it she was back home when I was there. So I drove down to see her and stay for a couple of days. She is very great fun and is a fabulous felt maker and eco dyer. I love her work.

Nicola on Carracloe beach.

I hope that I will have time to nip over to see Nicola again in 2016 and hopefully she will visit me in Brighton. To see Nicola's work - have a look here -

Are you bored yet? Nearly finished . . . 
Dear Viv from Art Van Go asked if I would work on the Artists in Action stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show. I had to get permission from Vilene as I was supposed to be on the stand - but they let me off for a morning. I had the best time and worked alongside my lovely friend Susan Chapman. 

Susan and I have an exhibition together and The Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch Show in March at the NEC. i really need to get on with some work . . .

Susan and I on the Artists in Action stand

So, you will be pleased to know that more or less brings me up to date - I leave for New Zealand on the 12th January. I hope to get one more post written before I leave about what is coming up in 2016.

Lake Rotoiti, South Island, New Zealand.

I want to thank you for being part of my life, whether you read the blog, are one of my students or a friend or colleague. 

Happy New Year!

x x x

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Making a Tyvek Box - 2 day workshop at Art Van Go - December 8th & 9th

2 rather splendid corsages.

My last workshop for 2015 was at Art Van Go, an excellent way to end the year. Viv and Kevin and the team look after everyone so well. They run a very comprehensive workshop timetable. Here are the workshops for 2016 - 
 I have a new one in August, Sticky and Shiny. Learning how to use all the glues and fusible webs with transfer foil. I think this is a long overdue workshop.

Anyway - back to Making a Tyvek Box. As many of you will know, I rarely teach a workshop where students leave with something finished. teaching process is my passion. However, I thought it might be time to show how adaptable Tyvek can be and that students don't need to leave with just a bag of colourful, textured samples.

My Tyvek box sample.
I took along the book Embroidered Boxes by Janet Edmonds. It has beautiful ideas for making boxes and has patterns for different styles of boxes with photocopying instructions. All of Janet's book are brilliant - clear and inspirational. Viv helped me blow up the patterns on their photocopier, whilst I have many skill and talents, using a photocopier for anything apart from copying is not one of them!

 A must for every book shelf.

We started by painting the Tyvek A4 sheets (on both sides) with watered down acrylic paint. If the paint is too thick it will form a barrier and the heat wont get through.
Painting the Tyvek.

Before launching into the boxes, I though it best for the group to learn how Tyvek reacts to heat using an iron and a heat gun. Control is the main thing to concentrate on when you work with Tyvek, knowing how far you can go.

2 of the corsages.

We started off distressing 1 piece of Tyvek between 2 sheets of baking with an iron. It is important to stroke your sample with the iron, just come into contact with the baking parchment and apply no pressure at all. Using slow, circular movements you can build up your texture.
We then went onto make some crazy corsages by cutting out 3 circles of Tyvek in contrasting colours and decreasing sizes. The circles are stitched together in the centre and then heat is applied using the iron and then the heat gun to get the edges to curl up. A reasonable amount of control can be achieved.

We also made beads and bowls.

One of the fabulous bowls.

A few of the corsages . . 

As you can see, the group had a great time with the corsages.

Once I felt the group could control the heat tools to the desired skill level we set off with making the panels for the boxes. The panels were 2 or 3 layers of Tyvek with contrasting colours of polyester organza in between the layers. These layers were then machine stitched together. Once all the panels were stitched the group then used a heat gun to distress the Tyvek and expose different layers of colour

                  Very carefully applying heat to expose different layers.

Then we stitched the boxes together. One of the girls had some battery operated lights n her bag!!! so we had a look at the those in one of the boxes.

 A box with battery operated lights in.

The girls that had made similar shaped boxes decided they wouldn't complete them with a closure/fastening and leave them open - to do the same. DO NOT put naked flames inside one of these boxes, even nightlights in a glass container would be dangerous. Only use battery operated lights.

A selection of samples.

 Another selection of splendidness.

One of the finished boxes.

All the boxes.

Teaching at Art Van Go is such fun. I don't get much time to see Viv and Kevin as we are all so busy - so spending a couple of days there is a real treat.

It was also a great opportunity to stock up on supplies . . . 


So - here we are falling head long into Christmas, I hope you have a very happy time with friends and family and if you are traveling - travel safe.

I hope you have enjoyed this years antics - next year is going to be even more bonkers - more of that next week.

My love and best wishes to you all.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Bees wax, stitch and a whole lot of fun. ExTeXtra weekend 4 - December 5th & 6th.

Pieces of rust dyed fabrics painted with bees wax.

Am playing catch up again. Am nearly there . . . 
I had wonderful weekend with my ExTeXtra group. This group of 8 girls were on Experimental Textiles last year and we negotiated 5 weekends for me to mentor them. This was the 4th weekend - we have one more in February - then they will be gone . .  I will miss them terribly - they are a fabulous group of girls. I am tearing up now just thinking about it!!!

The group have now started exhibiting as 'Out of Line', and they had their first exhibition at The West Country Quilt and Textile Show in Bristol in November. They showed a combination of their work from Experimental Textiles and work they have done since then - it was amazing to see all the photos. I was doing the show in Dublin so I couldn't get there. They had 2 x 8m x 3m stands to hang - a huge task. They coped magnificently. Out of Line will be exhibiting on the Inkberrow Design Centre stand at Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch in March. 
I will also be exhibiting at the show - but that's a story for another day

The work on the Experimental Textiles part of the stand.

So - back to the weekend - a couple of the girls wanted to try playing with bees wax so we got set up with a hot plate, irons and baking parchment. The idea was literally to play, to see what happens if . . .

Jane and Rachel starting to play

 Alison and Kate mucking about.

 Val and Tracey getting down to it.

 For some reason I don't have any photos of Mary or Marilyn - but here is a photo of the book table - that got a little over run with all kinds of deliciousness. Mary made the cake, my favourite, lemon.

 The 'book' table.

 The idea for these weekends is for the group to decide if there is something they want to try or if they want to get on with their own work. My part is to set things up, encourage, make suggestions and maybe give a tutorial here and there if required.

I won't be showing any finished samples of the groups work from now on. It is not my place. They are their own entity now.

 Muslin with tissue and bees wax.

 Cotton organdie and old ledger pages, pleated with bees wax.

 Various mesh and stitch with wax.

 Handmade paper rolled and coiled.

 Muslin and threads held with bees wax (and a very attractive pin).

 A previously stitched piece of work painted with bees wax to enable it to be manipulated and become three dimensional.

A pieced sample by Rachael . .

  . . and a detail.

 Strips of hand dyed fabrics stuck together with bees wax.

 Muslin painted with Inktense blocks, with bees wax and hand stitch.

Experiments with paper, twigs and bees wax.
Various papers layered with bees wax.
 An almost finished piece by Tracey.

 Mary had fun with the Inktense blocks and muslin and then found she could take print . .
Val playing with a waxed photocopy.

We had a very productive weekend, the group don't really need me any more. It makes me very proud, but . . 


I have just returned from the madness that is Art Van Go where I taught a 2 day workshop - will post about that next week. I had the best time. If you are in the area - they have the second day of their Christmas Bizarre tomorrow - Saturday. There is so much to see and artists to talk to. Do get there if you can. 

I will be spending the weekend starting to muck out my house and seeing my family - it has been a while!!!


Hello Diana - shall we talk next week? Hello Jill, was soooo good to see you and Hello Tod!! My lovely Aunty.

Have a great weekend

x x x