Tuesday, 12 May 2020


hi all and long time no see! A lot has happened since Christmas which was my last post mainly working towards an exhibition due to open in the Art Pavilion in Mile End yesterday but obviously due to circumstances we opened online. My first ever attempt at a group meet up online. It worked a treat just wish i had a glass of wine as was advised!

anyway to back track i was accepted into PRISM textiles last year which i feel was a great achievement. the exhibition title 'In search of (im) possibilities' was at first a bit daunting but gave a lot of scope. i had been reading a lot of fairy stories at the time and went after a fair amount of research down the rabbit hole of the Brothers Grimm and others with spinning gold from straw. i hadn't realised that fairy stories are categorised by their content, spinning gold into straw comes under ATU 500/501 'The name of the supernatural helper'. there are a number of versions, even two by the Brothers Grimm who revised and expanded their earlier 1812 version in 1857. the other story i worked with was 'The girl who could spin gold from clay and long straw' by Benjamin Thorpe 1853. this latter version is interesting as the girl was given a pair of gloves to spin with.
the idea of spinning gold from straw is obviously impossible, you cannot make gold, it was made billions of years ago and is therefore finite!
the more i delve into these stories the more i realise they are hugely sexist but thats another project.. 

i had been playing around with the idea of books and bookbinding techniques and so my proposal above was to use straws and straw instead of pages. the following images are just a brief insight of the ideas and finished artwork.
detail of finished 'Clutching at straws' using plain card straws, real straw straws,twisted straw, gold etc.
the two on the left have been 'bound' with stitch whilst the straw on the right is twined with gold wire. the wording on the central piece says 'please use the gloves provided when spinning gold'. the idea of wearing gloves now has a whole new meaning, something i am now exploring for future work.
i am a sucker for punishment! this tape is a 1.5cm wide tape and my tiny cross stitches were worked using a magnifying glass.
straw bends and splits very easily. my son now wants me to start making corn dollies!!!

so please do go along and see the 'virtual' exhibition and festival at www.prismtextiles.co.uk 
work will be appearing daily 


Monday, 23 December 2019

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and creative positive 2020

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Paper Trail

last year i signed up with 'appletye' to be part of their 100 years of paper https://appletye.org/paper-trail/
i was sent a very small piece of paper approximately 5cm x 7cm and the year of 1965 to use for my inspiration. so long as i incorporated the piece of paper i could do anything!

after a lot of thought i came up with‘The hangman’s noose’ 1965

The noose used by the hangman was made from Manila (abaca) hemp rope, boiled to take out any likelihood of stretching during use. It was formed into coils and waxed, soaped or greased to assure that the knot slid easily. Britain used a simple noose consisting of a loop worked into one end of the rope with the other end passed through it.

My response to the 1965 Act was to utilise the small piece of W. S. Hodgkinson paper and refashion it into a long continuous piece reflecting the hangman’s rope.

I started by boiling the paper piece for 30 minutes in plain tap water. Then cut it into 2mm wide strips and joined them into one continuous length by overlapping and sandwiching between sheets of fine Abaca paper with PVA. While still damp it was wrapped around a cylinder to retain its shape. Approximately half was waxed with beeswax and the Abaca paper trimmed. This length was bound into a coil using a length of Abaca fibre tied with a hangman’s knot. The remainder coated in liquid graphite left loose.
 i loved working on this piece, using paper is one of my great loves. it is interesting to see what others have done too with their paper pieces. go and have a look.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Summer Schools

This year i was lucky enough to do 2 Summer Schools back to back and at the same place; even better.
The first was with the Textile Study Group and tutor Gwen Hedley. It as just perfect for me, wrapping and playing around with construction. After an initial evening of colouring cloth, paper and thread with acrylic paint (my kind of colouring, Gwen showed us some of her techniques for wrapping, creating 'textiles' and assembling items.
i loved this workshop as she then let us decide on what we wanted to do - so grown up and not prescriptive. As usual i came home with only a very few samples but i feel i have learnt such a lot.
i chose to construct some samples using soluble sandwiches.

i had brought with me some black card pieces, no idea where i got them from and i assume they might be waste product? anyway the plan was to create a complete linked 'piece' by placing items on a sticky water soluble surface and then covering with a thin transparent water soluble layer that you stitch into. i started by wrapping each piece with thread to create substance to link into. the dark running stitches are horse hairs and then i used transparent nylon thread to link with the black 'dots' making sure all was linked together and knots joined the threads where they crossed over.

after washing away the soluble papers what was left is a delicate, light mesh. i am soooo happy with this but it did take a time!
i can remember making samples of machine embroidery on this type of paper and hated it; this is much more ME.
i then created another with pine needles and pieces of umbrella metal.


the pencil is there for scale. this time i used cross linking.

my second Summer School was with Distant Stitch and tutor Alice Fox. not in my comfort zone but i enjoyed it thoroughly. collecting leaves for eco dyeing (botanical contact printing), printing and making inks/ dyes from what we had around us.
i produced a long thin book made from Alice's favoured silk noil and a combination of stitch and eco dyeing/printing with leaves.
i love the minimalistic piece i have achieved. definitely something to save for future reference.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Two new hips and some new work

i realised when i went to write this post that i have not done so since last October. i hate people who don't update their blogs regularly so no excuse except that in November last year i had my second hip replacement but we are up and 'running' now!
i am concentrating on an exhibition for South West Textile Group in November at the ACE Gallery in Somerset.
'Wasted' is the title and as my mind works in strange ways i immediately thought of waists! the idea was to encourage us to use waste products or at least think of waste. for many years i have been collecting used coffee stirrers, lolly pop sticks, forks, knives etc of the kind used with take-aways, fish and chips etc. mainly wooden but some are plastic too. i have often thought that although they are wood and hence biodegradable it is still a waste. they are still only used once and then thrown away. 'what a waste'.
in my work as a textile conservator and working with costume i come across many interesting female shapes and the undergarments that go with them. so 'what a waste/waist' is where i am working to now.
i have been bending my lolly sticks etc to create 'waist' shapes in imitation of corset boning and busks (the wood or bone piece slipped in the centre front of a corset. many of these busks are beautifully decorated with domestic images of hearts, stars, dates and names so i was inspired to create similar shapes with drilled holes. to some extent they remind me of human ribs and the distortion achieved by using restriction. 

 i was also sampling ideas of covering some of the sticks and using cane as early stays would be made with this before whalebone and also playing with my beloved graphite!
i played around with many ways of linking. originally i thought of using twisted wire but eventually i decided bookbinders linen was the best and twining. above are 3 constructions still in progress as i need to decide on the best way of display and finish.
still a way to go and so many ideas and i haven't even started with the plastic spoons!

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

I have been doing something

at last i am near the end of the piece based on film canisters and the photos people take.

a series of 5 'films' based on some photographs i took some years ago (at least 20) on the North Norfolk Coast at Cley; a weekend with friends. i revisited Cley the year before last and was stunned to see a wind farm just off the coast called 'The Sheringham Field'. my parents lived in Sheringham and in fact i grew up for a great chunk of my youth in Norfolk so i find this whole area of great interest. i found this farm beautiful from a distance but unnerving and scary at the same time.

i have looked at how people take numerous images of the same person, item or view. the strips consist of 12 images similar to the 120 film my son uses and often hangs in my bathroom when he has developed them. each frame 6cm x 6cm.

i have used ramie with koh-i-nor pigments and graphite,removing the weft threads in certain areas.

the last two strips concentrate on the wind farm and the images produced from a study of seal visits between each pole. for those of you who know North Norfolk you will be aware of the seals on the sand banks off the Blakeney point.

hopefully this will be shown in a group exhibition with 'Stitch Textile Artists' at ilminster Arts Centre in April 2019!