ExTex 2 - The last weekend - before the end of year show!

A close detail of Barbara's pebble pool.

It is wonderful when a plan comes together - especially if you never quite know how things will end. With the benefit of experience you know things SHOULD work out how you wish - but you can never guarantee an outcome.

I can't tell you how delighted I am with the work the ExTex 2 girls have produced. Experimental Textiles is non accredited course - there is no certificate at the end of it - just an amazing body of work and more confidence in yourself and your work. Because we don't need to tick boxes to please examination boards, I am able to work individually with each student. This is very rewarding and crucial for their personal development.

I will continue to teach the course at the IDC studios at The Old Needle Works in Redditch. It is right next to the railway and bus station and has easy access to the local motorways and airports. I already have students enrolled for June that are flying from Scotland and driving from Devon. The next intake is in June - I hope to be teaching two groups this year - one on Thursday and Fridays and one on weekends - once a month ish!!! You can find the dates and more information on experimentaltextiles.com

The last weekend of the course was great fun and slightly sad as it would be the last time the girls would be all together at the IDC studios. They will be together at the end of year show at the NEC in a few weeks time.

It was two days of catching up, discussion and evaluation. We talked about how work might be mounted - or not. Not every one will have a 'finished piece of work'. The course can be used to spend time developing samples.

Rachel has been stitching into her paper collage again, layering even more stitch into this lovely sample. 

 Rachel had never worked with paper, fabric or stitch before she joined the course. She has produced some very beautiful work. All a student needs is a supportive atmosphere and encouragement to enable them to thrive and grow.
If they are interested in their course and their work - there are no limits to what they can go on to achieve.

Val is an experienced patchwork and quilter and is very familiar with fabric and stitch. Not so design and paper . . . . . 
I love this applique sample - the design is a section taken from one of the design exercises at the beginning of the course.

 The design . . . .

  . . .  and a close up . . . 

Val is working on a lager fabric piece for the show. The work is constructed from fabrics that Val has dyed on the course. I love the fall of colour.

 Now all Val has to do is stitch . .  and stitch . .  stitch it together.
It will be stunning when it is finished.

You may remember Val's samples from the previous ExTex weekend where she experimented with disguising Tyvek. she work further into them - I though you might like to see this one. It's not finished yet - but it is looking good.


 Mary is a very creative student both with textiles . . . and baking. These little chocolate cup cakes were delicious, to make things even better - Rachel arrived with some gorgeous date cake. We were very spoilt this weekend!!!


I showed you Mary weaving her bowl with a variety of natural fabrics in a previous post . . . . .

Here it is dyed and filled in with copper wire.

I am hoping that Mary will write up the story of how the bowl was dyed - it is hysterical, the things students have to go through - working around their families, to produce their work, can be very entertaining.

One of many details I took of the bowl.

Barbara is a very experienced felt maker and came on the course to stretch herself and her ideas. She is also a very keen machine embroiderer and had no time for hand stitch. How things have changed. Whilst I try very hard not to bend students to my will, and those of you who know me; know it's a strong will, I do try to encourage a more 'intimate' way of working. A closer and slower way of working with your materials. There is of course a place for free machine embroidery, but I find that working with hand stitch (not necessarily embroidery stitches), with threads that you have dyed yourself can be very rewarding. Barbara also discovered this - finally! To be able to make the distinction between the marks that a machine and a hand can make, is a very important one. There is a place for both.


Barbara arrived on Saturday morning with two new pieces work based on looking into rock pools. She had also created a lovely workbook of images and samples. Barbara made the felt then dyed it. To knock the colour back she then applied painted Bondaweb for a more ' murky' effect. Both pieces were then printed on with blocks that Barbara had made herself. Eight layers of print in all to achieve the effect of 'looking in' to a pool.

The layers of print on the felt are very effective and I just love the 3D 'Things'!!!

 Here second piece is the one she is stitching into - the layered prints really do give a 3D effect.

  Here are two details of the work -

 . .  and then to the stitch  . . .

 I think I am more pleased with this image than any other I have published on this blog. In a very simple way it shows the development and understanding of what I have tried to achieve with the course.

Barbara also had fun with newspaper faux chenille between this and the last weekend.

I never got the chance to take photos of Kat's work as she kept bringing pieces work in to show us, then putting it back in the car. All will be revealed at the show.


I am grateful to the girls for enrolling on the course. It is something I believe in very strongly, but I can't teach without students. It just goes to show that teaching the most basic of processes, along with encouragement and care, can create happy, well developed students who can confidently work on their own.
My ExTex 2 girls from the left - Rachel, Kat, Mary, Barbara and Val.

 The end of year show will be at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC on stand L24 - alongside The Vilene Workshop and opposite the catwalk. 20th - 23rd March. Do go along and say Hello to the girls.


Off to pack up some orders now and sort out packs for the workshops next week at The Jersey Textiles Showcase - aargHHHH!!! There aren't enough hours in the day.

Hello Jill and Diana, will email at some stage this week . . . . 
x x x x


  1. More gorgeous inspiration. The pieces made by Barbara remind me very much of opals, especially the first one.


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