Wednesday, 31 July 2013


No pics today, just wondering what is happening to my blog. I usually bimble along quite happily with an average of 80 hits per day, more if I've just blogged, less if I haven't. In the last three days I have had 5000 hits all from Germany. In my audience stats I see that  3 very adult content sites have appeared. There must be a lot of people out there expecting to see something other than a craft site. Any one with any thoughts as to why this has happened? These sites have appeared on my Kindle Fire also. I wish I had more understanding of what is happening to my stats.

Monday, 29 July 2013


Busy sampling methods for laying down the herb shapes onto the background, very easy with a pen and paper, very time consuming with fabric and stitch. here I have used  free motion stitching, applique and embellished some chiffon over the shepherds purse. This would be perfect for poppies as the chiffon leaves a hairy edge mimicking the poppy stems exactly. Talking of poppies.........

My mini wild flower meadow is looking stunning at the moment, it's amazing how the torrential showers are really battering the poppies but within a couple of hours they are all looking quite perky again.

Another storm heading our way.

Such a dramatic mix of weather, the sun was pouring into my sewing room window making beautiful shadows which I considered drawing and stitching over this piece, if only I had more time. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013


Inktense crayon, graphite pencil, alcohol inks and Promarker pens on cartridge paper. 30"x 20"
Too hot to think, so brain disengaged, playing with pattern, colour and form. It's quite bizarre but some areas are pleasing me. I am using this as a respite from the little crewel work pieces I'm working on.
It's interesting to digitally increase the shadow in this drawing.

The pale blue shepherds purse suddenly looks as though it has been laid over the piece - really 3D. This is turning out to be a real exploration of drawing techniques and teaching me more than the conventional route did some 10 years ago. At some stage I will just take a pencil and paper and make a plain sketch of something complex just to see what all this practise has brought to my drawing skills, or not, as the case may be. I'm certainly 'seeing' differently, whether it will make a difference remains to be seen. As I have said many times, each tiny improvement I achieve is like getting blood from the proverbial stone. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Usual Prevarication

I can't seem to get myself in a stitching frame of mind at the moment probably because I need to get stuck into some traditional embroidery for the pieces I am working on. I'm convincing myself (not) that the paintings I'm doing are all part of the investigation  process. what I really should be doing are nine pieces like this. 

They are quite small but each one takes a few hours of stitching, if I had a run at it my needlework would quickly improve (out of practise) but I'm finding all sorts of distractions. I certainly can't blame the weather, it is just right temperature wise for me, a little more light would not go amiss but that is just nit picking. 
I've been thinking of all the people who have been working through the heat wave, it must have been so uncomfortable for them. There is such a thing as too much heat and I understand there is more to come.
 We had a little rain during the night which gave me the chance to get the Zinnias and Nicotiana Sylvestris planted. These are the backbone of  the garden for late summer.
 So how can I get in the mind for stitching?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


I thought it might be interesting to share my thoughts behind the John Clare pieces that I am working on.

 It started with me drawing and painting the hedgerow plants that surround this village into which he was born.  I had very little idea of where I was going with these drawings until I realised that the plants I was gathering contained lots of strewing herbs which had been used in medieval times to sweeten the air and to walk upon in homes that often had dirt floors. Certain plants would keep vermin away, others had antiseptic properties, some were purely for their perfume. My link to J.Clare would be the poetry that yearned for that ancient past and his pleasure at the simple plants and wildlife of his native village. I can see the medieval past in the grassland around here, the seeds that lie dormant for generations and when conditions are right provide us with a tapestry of historical plants, self heal, scabious,violas, thyme's, lady's mantle, meadow sweet to name but a few. So among my  herbs will be little 'cameos' of Elizabethan crewelwork or 'slips' as they were called, they were often based on plants or animals. I will take a line of relevant verse and make a stencil of it to weave into the scene. At the moment I see it on cotton organza but I'm not sure if the weight of the crewel work will be too heavy for the fabric, but that is what sampling is all about and as you can see I have started.

I have finished my final drawing/painting, the only one I feel precious enough about not to scribble notes all over it as I have the others. It has taken me from marker pens, to working with paint, mainly down to cost. These images are large and I was going through Promarkers  and various other pens at a rate I couldn't sustain. I have a lot to learn about painting but a start has been made.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A Busy Week Ahead

I'm writing all over my drawings, picking out bit's that work for me and bit's that don't. Adding notes on stitch possibilities and ideas for a piece of work for an exhibition coming up in October in the John Clare cottage/museum in my village. I'm concentrating on the humble weeds that grow in the hedgerows that inspired many of his poems.

Less is definitely more for what I have in mind, I shall start stitching samples on Tuesday during the 'Calico' meeting. Tomorrow I meet up with my two textile friends for our Trident meeting - we are experimenting with soluble fabrics, I may be able to slant my efforts towards this project.

This is my favourite piece so far - wallpaper lining paper with a walnut ink wash,  Promarkers and koh i nor paints. I have not finished it because I like the outlines as much as the painted parts. I think these drawings will provide enough resources for a series of work.

Thursday evening I am talking about my work at Beds. Embroidery Guild, mainly about the series of work concerned with time and memory. Definitely out of my comfort zone!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

This England

A couple of miles from where I live is a piece of ancient limestone meadow land. Barnack Hills and Holes is a 50 acre site which was first used by the Romans 1500 years ago for the quarrying of the limestone. In medieval times the stone was quarried to help build Peterborough and Ely cathedrals. The legacy from this is a hummocky landscape that is carpeted with a profusion of wild flowers, many of which are very rare and exclusive to the site. I have walked these mini hills and hollows many times over the years and today I think it was looking at it's very best. We walked through carpets of orchids, quaking grass , bell flowers, thyme's, rock roses and  emerging broomrape to name just a few of the 300 recorded species of wild plants. Marbled white butterflies,dragonflies and many species of bee were abundant and the drone of insect life was constant. I must take my wildflower guide with me next time, I used to know the names of many, many flowers but like all things if you don't use it ,you quickly lose it.

My drawings are leading me slowly to an idea for a piece of work at last, I won't be using colour other than cream, greys and black but my exploratory work is highly coloured, how does that work?

These are not finished but nice to have around to doodle into as the mood takes me.

One of the pics I took today had a horizon line of mixed grasses and seed heads against the backdrop of the sky. I have started drawing this image with a view to stitch at the weekend, that is if the North Norfolk coast doesn't tempt me, who knows how long this summer weather will last - it seems wrong to be inside stitching during these precious days.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Day Out

A day out was needed on Saturday and the promise of a fair weekend (for once) meant that we headed off up to Yorkshire. We went to the  Mountfield Gallery in Holmfirth, home of Dionne Swift She turns her beautiful home into an art gallery for the week in aid of Macmillan support and as part of the Holmfirth Art Week.
The views from Dionne's garden are breathtaking, she lives at the top of a incredibly narrow and steep road  but the payoff is the panoramic view.


The work on show is from thirteen artists that sit well alongside Dionne's work and reflected the high standards of craftmanship that her work displays. I would have liked to bring home a piece of incredible wirework by the artist Helaina Sharpley - a complex townscape made of fine wire that just came out of the canvas at me, making me feel I was actually in the town it depicted. I would have loved to take home a couple of paintings by Paul Brown that had really captured the genus loci of his subjects.

The paperwork of Jennifer Collier was very appealing to me, I've always been drawn to her work and the little lampshades were divine. Hannah Nunn  had some very beautiful lampshades on show as well, the meticulous paper cut-work of birds, feathers and grasses, made to glow by the lighting could easily come home with me. I would also have liked the wood figures by Fiona Wilson, at least five to line up on my mantelpiece, the imagery of these figures keeps popping into my mind. Don't even get me started on the ceramics of Tone von Krogh, I want it all, the wonderful turquoise and aquas of her tactile work would fit in well with my ceramic collection.

So what did we come home with?

A piece by Dionne of course! It was a joint purchase and John loved this piece as much as I did.
Of course we would also have liked to bring these home as well.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Stop Drawing, Start Stitching!

If anything could make me give up textiles I think it would be painting. Having said that, this is not painting it's instant gratification using alcohol ink felt tips and a gold promarker, but it makes me think that I could learn to paint. And that's the problem, the world is full of brilliant painters and I would just be another mediocre student. The world is not full of textile artists so I think I'll stick with what I know and enjoy. I think I need to find a way to translate these drawings to stitch, I can see a lot of work ahead!

This piece is A3 cartridge paper and I have selected some Acer leaves, fennel, honeysuckle, poppy and shepherds purse drawn in layers. I have not played with the positive/negative shapes in this drawing, I think that makes it  less dynamic than the last one.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


I can certainly see a difference in my work after Dionne's course this drawing is done on wallpaper lining and measures 24" X 30" so it took me a few hours to do. I started yesterday lunchtime and worked quite late. I'm happy with the design but I can see I need some painting practise. I used Spectrum Noir alcohol ink pens and a koh-i-nor palette. It's very Ullapool to me but might read differently to someone else. Now I need to calm down and get on with some stitching.